Christian Boltanski
France, 1944
When he was only twelve years old, Christian Boltanski left school, and his parents took over his education. Without any formal training in art, apart from occasional attendance at a painting studio, in 1958 he started to paint. For almost ten years he painted without any kind of recognition. He gave it up and, between 1967 and 1974 he produced a series of works with a strong biographical element, which consisted basically of letters which he sent off at random and extremely violent films. That conceptual turn in his work led him to take part in “Documenta” V in 1972 and to make contact with a number of artists with shared interests, whom he has worked with on various occasions: Jean Le Gag and Annette Messager. From 1975 he eliminated the biographical references from his output and worked with photography, thinking about the cultural codes of taste and stereotypes of beauty in works such as Les plus beaux enfants and Compositions decorative. Since the retrospective of his work at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1984, he has taken up the themes of his first works again and concentrated on the relation between memory, death and photography.
David G. Torres