The conceptual artist Christian Boltanski has passed away

Christian Boltanski's art of remembrance was largely inspired by his fascination with oblivion and transience. He has now passed away at the age of 76.


Anyone who enters ZKM's media art collection »Writing the History of the Future« and begins a counterclockwise tour will soon come across a small room with four columns made of biscuit tins bearing the faces of old photographs, each warmly and dimly lit by a lamp. The installation »Réliquaire« (1990) by the French conceptual artist Christian Boltanski invites us to linger, to come to rest and to reflect: in turn prerequisites for remembering, for bringing the past to mind, which nevertheless does not become fully present: the faces remain blurred, unidentifiable.

The past and memory, its falsification and forgetting, transience as well as death and legacy are the main themes in Christian Boltanski's work – especially often with reference to the Nazi era and the Holocaust, which shaped him throughout his life as the son of a Jewish immigrant born in 1944. Likewise, his art of remembrance explores possible techniques of invoking the past and of commemoration, often with the help of everyday and ordinary objects. Installations were his main instrument, but he also used photography, sculpture and many other forms of expression. His works also repeatedly pose questions to the viewer about the constructedness of one's own self-image and individual character.

Boltanski, a self-taught artist, received the Praemium Imperiale in the cultural category, considered the »Nobel Prize of the Arts«, in 2006.

Christian Boltanski died on Wednesday in Paris at the age of 76.

Category: Obituaries