Christian Boltanski, one of the main contemporary French artists, died at the age of 76, we learned on Wednesday July 14 from Bernard Blistène, former director of the modern art museum at the Pompidou center, who had dedicated him an exhibition in 2020.
“He died this morning at Cochin hospital (in Paris), where he had been for a few days. He was sick. He was a modest man, he hid things as long as he could ”, Bernard Blistène told AFP, confirming information from the newspaper The world.
“An incredible inventor”
Self-taught, the plastic artist and photographer, marked in his childhood by the Shoah, worked all his life on the absence, the disappearance and the universal concern in the face of death. He was the longtime companion of Annette Messager, another renowned visual artist.
Christian Boltanski, the art of being a survivor
Whoever considered himself to be an artisan of memory “Fought against oblivion and disappearance” through works combining heterogeneous objects, videos, photographs and installations.
“It’s a very great loss,” bemoaned Bernard Blistène. Above all, he loved this transmission between people, through stories, through memories. He will remain as one of the greatest storytellers of his time. He was an incredible inventor ”.
Son of a converted Jewish doctor of Ukrainian origin and a Catholic Corsican, Christian-Liberté Boltanski was born on September 6, 1944. During the Occupation, his mother, suffering from polio, hides his father under the floor of the apartment. They fake a divorce and claim that the father has left Paris.
His nephew Christophe Boltanski tells about this atypical family in ” The hiding-place “, recognized by the 2015 Femina Prize.
“With him, an exhibition was like a real story”
In 2020, the Center Pompidou dedicated an exhibition to him, “Do your time”, conceived as a gigantic unique work. With him, “An exhibition was like a real story, like a great movement”, remembers Bernard Blistène, who had rubbed shoulders with him for forty years.
The event opened with a visual shock: a video of a seated man who keeps vomiting. Video which tells of the confinement experienced by his family during the war and the years that followed, imbued with the omnipresent story of the Shoah.
We will also remember other iconoclastic projects: the artist had compiled on a Japanese island the beats of 75,000 hearts, sold his life annuity to a collector in Tasmania and tried to speak with the whales of Patagonia.