30 sep 2021

Louvre, Centre Pompidou… four Parisian museums pay tribute to Christian Boltanski

From 12 October, four prestigious Parisian institutions – the Louvre Museum, the Centre Pompidou, the Opéra Comique and the Palace of Versailles – will pay tribute to the great French artist Christian Boltanski, who died on 14 July in Paris. 

Royal Chapel of the Palace of Versailles, 2021 © Thomas Garnier.

On July 14, France lost one of its greatest artists: Christian Boltanski, a visual artist recognized throughout the world for his art constantly questioning the boundary between absence and presence, life and death and the power of memory. Born in Paris in 1944, in the rubble of the Second World War, this self-taught artist began painting at the age of 14, before abandoning the medium in 1967 to try his hand at photography and cinema. From the 2000s, he became world famous with his site-specific installations, such as People at the Grand Palais in 2010. Under the nave of the huge building, he had piled up a phenomenal amount of clothes, forming a pile rising several meters. The visitor was invited to wander through the vast space while the work engaged in a reflection on collective memory, the archive and death, the visual artist’s favourite themes. 


In tribute to the artist who died at the age of 77, four Parisian institutes are organising several major exhibitions from 12 October. For this occasion, the Louvre Museum, the Centre Pompidou and the Palace of Versailles are joining forces to offer visitors four monumental installations emblematic of the Parisian’s work. At the Centre Pompidou, the museum is dedicating three rooms of its contemporary collection to Christian Boltanski. This exhibition entitled  “The Impossible Life of Christian Boltanski”  will present three of the artist’s installations, including Heart (2005), on exceptional loan for the occasion, which presents an ingenious device linking the recording of the artist’s heartbeat to a light bulb that turns on and off to the rhythm of the pulsations.


Requisitioned on an exceptional basis, the Centre Pompidou car parkwill give life to the Fosse opera house (2020), Christian Boltanski’s creation produced by the Opéra Comique before his death. With its grazing light, in a sepulchral half-light, this total sound and visual experience will plunge the visitor into the den of the car park where the notes and voices of the musicians will resonate strongly. The Palace of Versailles will also present,  in the Royal Chapel, a sound work by the artist called The Talking Clock (2003). Day and night, a track slowly ticks off minutes and seconds, thus testifying to the incessant flow of time. Finally, the Louvre Museum will host the installation Les Archives de Christian Boltanski in the prestigious building. This monumental work composed of six hundred rusty biscuit tins contains nearly two thousand photographs meticulously collected between 1965 and 1988 by the artist, who still kept the traces of his own past. So much proof that Christian Boltanski, passionate all his life about the traces of the past and the deceased in memories , will continue to inscribe his legend there despite his absence.



Tribute to Christian Boltanski, from 12 October, Paris and Versailles.
The Archives of Christian Boltanski, 1965-1988 from October 13 , 2021 to January 10 , 2022 at the Louvre Museum, Paris 1st. 

The Talking Clock, from October 12 to November 6, 2021 at the Palace of Versailles. 
The Impossible Life of Christian Boltanski, from October 13, 2021 to April 13, 2022 at the Centre Pompidou, Paris 4th . 
by Christian Boltanski,  on October 12 at the Centre Pompidou car park, Paris 4th.