Christian Boltanski - Photographs London Wednesday, November 2, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Jennifer Flay, Paris

  • Exhibited

    Archivo Pons Artxiboa, Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea, San Sebastián, Spain, 17 October 2002 - 11 January 2003, for the present lot

  • Literature

    Archivo Pons Artxiboa, exh. cat., Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea, San Sebastián, Spain, 2002, p. 209

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘I never take photographs myself. I don’t feel like a photographer, more like a recycler.’

    Christian Boltanski

    French conceptualist Christian Boltanski uses found images and readymade objects to create works that are centred on loss, memory, childhood and the forgotten. He creates haunting installations by repurposing objects and enlarging anonymous photographs, further distorting the faces. The anonymity of the images in his work allows the viewer to reflect on the themes and atmosphere rather than on the identity of the individuals. ‘I try to find images that are sufficiently imprecise to be as widely shared as possible,’ Boltanski has stated, ‘vague images that spectators can embroider as they see fit.’

    Reliquaire, the work offered here, consists of one cement tin brick column on top of which are two steel boxes with two photographs illuminated by two lamps. It presents itself as a memorial to unknown beings and unknowable loss. The title Reliquaire means reliquary – a container designed to hold or exhibit a relic. The relic in this case is not saintly bones but the sense of passing time and the remains of people we never knew.



Mixed media installation comprised of two gelatin silver prints, two electric lamps and cables, two steel boxes with wire mesh and thirty-six tin boxes containing fabric.
205 x 43.3 x 46.7 cm (80 3/4 x 17 x 18 3/8 in.)
This work is registered with the Christian Boltanski Archive (number CB 0495).

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £50,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4092


London Auction 3 November 2016