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Christian Boltanski Veronika

cm 151,5 x 85,5
After starting out as a self-taught painter, at the end of the 1960s Christian Boltanski began a line of inquiry marked by a broad-ranging and personal reflection on the themes of death, memory, and loss, developed above all in video, photography, and installations, though he continued to describe himself as a painter. A recurrent theme in his work – probably the result of having listened to stories about the Holocaust as a child – is time, as articulated through memory, identity, and the historic trace. Through the presence of images that are sometimes material (photos, objects) and sometimes immaterial (shadows and projections), the viewer is prompted by the artist to experience a dimension of recollection and dream associated with the historic contingency of the human being. The sensation of the memory is physically built with environments and installations of objects, faces, and lights that envelop the public in an intimate and evocative atmosphere. The materials employed by Boltanski vary greatly. Standing out among them is the use of photographic images, often found, capable of combining the touching value of the historic trace with an aesthetic and conceptual one, equally essential for the French artist’s work ever since the start of his career. If, in the 1970s, photography, often together with performance, was adopted by Boltanski as an instrument for freezing the moment, and in the 1980s became monument and memory, later it was employed as a clue, linked to a subject and the absence thereof, as in the case of Veronika. This is a striking and fluctuating image, in which photography is used without doing photography. The softly framed fabric, and the shiny quality of the neon illuminating the face of the portrayed woman from above, confer on the whole an evocative quality that eliminates the narration and the historic simulation of other works, making the installation a kind of votive object in which the face acquires the features and attributes of a shroud-like apparition.
On View
D. Eccher (ed.), Christian Boltanski, exhibition catalogue (Bologna, Galleria d’Arte Moderna – Villa delle Rose), Milan 1997. C. Grenier (ed.), Christian Boltanski, Paris 2011. J.H. Martin (ed.), Christian Boltanski, Paris 2014.
Photo Credits
Foto Roberto Galasso
Legal status
Donation by Claudia Gian Ferrari
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