Christian Boltanski creates large-scale photography installations that confront onlookers with a profound sense of tragedy. In an effort to force his audience to reflect upon death and tragedy, Boltanski also forces his audience to ponder life and humanity.
Christian Boltanski is a self-taught sculptor, painter, filmmaker, and photographer. Born in France in 1944, Boltanski began as a painter and later gained recognition for short films in the 1960s. The artist is well-known for his installations of found objects, and for his portraiture-style photography installations. Boltanski boasts an international résumé and has exhibited widely throughout Europe, as well as in the US, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Australia, Israel, and Japan.
Christian Boltanski creates photography installations using found photographs, which he enlarges and assembles into meaningfully composed collections. Boltanski often incorporates elements of light into his installations, which serve to further enhance the focus on the people in the photographs. Born in 1944, Boltanski was deeply impacted by the tragedies of the Second World War and has created several Holocaust memorial exhibitions; his use of spotlights attached to individual photographs often symbolizes the interrogation and torture that Holocaust victims were forced to endure. Alternatively, Boltanski uses string lights to symbolically weave together collections of photographs of strangers, creating a sense of universal humanity among them.
Boltanski is a master of photography’s power to evoke human emotion. By making photos of unknown and often forgotten people fill up an entire room, or by attaching them to huge volumes of found objects, Boltanski gives the images a hauntingly human presence. Audiences of Boltanski’s exhibition look into the eyes of the people in the photographs and have no other choice than to wonder about their history and to attempt to reconstruct their pasts. Christian Boltanski transforms old photographs of anonymous people into images with a profound presence that evoke a sense emotion in those who view them. By confronting his audiences with death and tragedy, Boltanski forces them also to appreciate human life.