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Christian Boltanski - Lifetime

February 9–May 6, 2019

Christian Boltanski - Lifetime

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Christian Boltanski (b. 1944) is one of France’s preeminent contemporary artists. After first making short films in the late ’60s, Boltanski turned to photography in the 1970s. Based on his interest in the development of human history and cultural anthropology, Boltanski garnered attention for a large number of works in which he combined everyday objects such as biscuit tins with photographs and documents to create links to his own memories as well as those of others. In the ’80s, Boltanski began producing installations that utilized light, including the Monument series (1985-ongoing). These altar-like structures, made out of photographic portraits of children and light bulbs, dealt with religious themes. This led to works such as Altar to the Chases High School (1987), an altar consisting of face shots of Jewish students who enrolled in a Vienna high school in 1931 that were illuminated with light bulbs. As this technique of displaying a collection of portraits evokes images of genocide, specifically the mass murder of millions of Jewish people in Nazi Germany, it has prompted a great deal of controversy. For Boltanski, whose father was Jewish, the Holocaust is something with deeply personal significance. In works such as Personnes (2010), made up of countless articles of clothing piled up in the vast Grand Palais in Paris, Boltanski has used a variety of methods to address themes such as history, memory, death, and absence.

After being invited to participate in international exhibitions of contemporary art such as Documenta (Kassel, Germany) and the Venice Biennale in the ’70s, Boltanski’s field of activity expanded to include many countries all over the world. After his first Japanese solo exhibition at ICA, Nagoya and Art Tower Mito in 1990 and 1991, Boltanski actively showed his work in the country at events such as the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial and the Setouchi International Art Festival. In 2016, he held a solo exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum.

Encompassing everything from the artist’s earliest pieces to his most recent work, this exhibition, jointly organized by the National Museum of Art, Osaka, the National Art Center, Tokyo, and the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, is the first full-scale retrospective of Boltanski’s career to be presented in Japan. While looking back at a variety of Boltanski’s efforts from the ’70s to the present, the retrospective is based on the artist’s idea of creating an installation for a space – or he suggests, “presenting an exhibition as a single work of art.” The exhibition will serve as an introduction to Boltanski’s magnificent world of art, which he began making over 50 years ago and continues to create today.

Profile: Christian Boltanski
Born in Paris in 1944, Boltanski first attracted attention for works related to memories (both his own and other people’s), consisting of documents such as photographs and ID cards, and everyday objects such as clothing and stationery. He has consistently dealt with the themes of history, memory, death, and absence in pieces such as the Monument series (1985-ongoing), altar-like structures assembled out of children’s portrait photographs and light bulbs, and Personnes (2010), made up of huge piles of clothes. In 2006, the artist received the Praemium Imperiale (awarded in honor of the late Prince Takamatsu).

We very much regret to inform you that production year and collection of the work on our web site and the PR materials was wrong. We sincerely apologize for this error.
Error: Christian Boltanski, Les Archives du Coeur, 2011, Collection of the artist
Correction: Christian Boltanski, Les Archives du Coeur, 2010, Collection of Fukutake Foundation

February 9–May 6, 2019
Opening Hours
10:00-17:00 (10:00-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays).
*Last entry 30 minutes before closing.
Mondays (except Feb. 11, Apr. 29, May 6) and Feb. 12.
  • Organized by The National Museum of Art, Osaka, The Asahi Shimbun
  • Supported by Ambassade de France / Institut français du Japon
  • Sponsored by Daikin Foundation for Contemporary Arts
Adults University students
900 (600) yen 500 (250) yen

*( )admission for groups of more than 20 people.

* Admission free for visitors under 18 years old and mentally or physically disabled people with one attendant.

Night discount on 17:00-20:00 Fridays and 17:00-20:00 Saturdays.
Adults: 700 yen, university students: 400 yen.

On February 24, the admission is free to the 30th anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor’s Accession to the Throne.
On May 1, the admission is free to celebrating the enthronement of Crown Prince Naruhito.

  • Organized by The National Museum of Art, Osaka, The Asahi Shimbun
  • Supported by Ambassade de France / Institut français du Japon
  • Sponsored by Daikin Foundation for Contemporary Arts