Christian Boltanski, Whose Art Installations Dazzled, Dies at 76

Christian Boltanski, an internationally acclaimed artist whose placing installations handled themes of reminiscence and forgotten lives, likelihood and destiny, dying and the passage of time, died on Wednesday in Paris. He was 76 and lived simply outdoors town, in Malakoff.

The Marian Goodman Gallery, which represented him, introduced his dying, in a hospital. No trigger was given.

Mr. Boltanski as soon as crammed the cavernous Wade Thompson Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan with 30 tons of discarded clothes, a piece about loss and remembrance that he referred to as “No Man’s Land.” An exhibition he created at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville in Paris in 1998 included 1000’s of objects he had gotten from the misplaced and located at Grand Central Terminal in New York. Another exhibition consisted of pictures he had appropriated from obituaries in a Swiss newspaper. He created a everlasting set up at a museum in Bologna, Italy, dedicated to a controversial airplane catastrophe, with the wreckage of the aircraft as its centerpiece. Since 2008 he had recorded the heartbeats of individuals all around the world for what he referred to as “Les Archives du Coeur.”

Those and his many different works have been wealthy in visible and aural affect and open-ended of their invitation to the viewer to ponder the previous, what has been misplaced and what endures.

“No Man’s Land” being put in at the Park Avenue Armory in 2010. The venture used 30 tons of used clothes and three,000 stacked cookie tins.Credit…Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris; Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times

“What interests him is not so much particular people — whether it be children he knew, people he encountered in photographs or images of himself — but rather the mechanics of memory,” Michael Brenson wrote in The New York Times in 1988, reviewing a Boltanski exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. “His works are both meticulously ordered and claustrophobic. His recent installations sweep us in, sometimes entertain, then ask us to step back and consider images and feelings that seem too full, too immediate, to consider.”

Mr. Boltanski’s works, with their strategies of numerous vanished lives, have been typically mentioned to evoke the Holocaust, and he had a private connection to that occasion. Yet he mentioned his items have been by no means straight concerning the Holocaust, however quite have been knowledgeable by it. And, he mentioned, though he was typically seen as being preoccupied with dying, he noticed optimism and even humor in a few of his works.

“When I do a large piece with used clothes, some people talk about it in relation to the Holocaust and say how sad the piece is,” he mentioned for a 1997 monograph. “But children find it fun. It makes them happy, because they can try on all the clothes.”

One of Mr. Boltanski’s odder tasks was “The Life of C.B.,” a piece not by him however that includes him. In 2009 he struck an uncommon association with a collector named David Walsh by which Mr. Walsh agreed to pay him for the best to livestream Mr. Boltanski’s studio perpetually till one in all them died. The stream was nonetheless working at Mr. Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, Australia, at Mr. Boltanski’s dying.

In an interview with The Brooklyn Rail final yr, Mr. Boltanski mentioned he had lengthy since grown accustomed to Mr. Walsh’s cameras.

“At the beginning I would try to say hello, and sometimes I would arrive naked,” he mentioned. “Now I totally forgot about the cameras. What is funny is that when you look at someone’s life you can’t have your own. For this reason he hired someone, and this poor guy’s job is to stay in front of the screens and look at me.”

In a 2017 interview with The Times, he mused on his personal passing.

“I hope that when I shall be dead, somebody that I don’t know in Australia is going to be sad for two minutes,” he mentioned. “It would be something marvelous because it means you’ve touched people you’ve never seen, and that is something incredible.”

One of the 81 lightbulbs symbolizing the victims of an airplane catastrophe in Italy close to the carcass of a DC-9 airplane, a part of an set up at the Museum for the Memory of Ustica in Bologna. The aircraft went down close to the island of Ustica, off Sicily, in 1980.Credit…Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris; Marco Bucco, through Reuters

Christian Liberté Boltanski was born on Sept. 6, 1944, in Paris. (The metropolis had been liberated from Nazi occupation weeks earlier than, the inspiration, he mentioned, for his center title.) His father, Etienne, was a physician, and his mom, Marie-Elise Ilari-Guérin Boltanski, was a author.

His mom was Roman Catholic, and his father was descended from Ukrainian Jews. When World War II got here, he mentioned, his mother and father, residing in occupied Paris, faked an argument to create the looks that his father had left the household, when the truth is he was hiding below the floorboards; on one in all his father’s uncommon ventures out of his hiding place, Christian was conceived. The wartime and Holocaust tales that his mother and father and their pals instructed after the warfare have been formative for him, he mentioned.

“At the beginning of the life of an artist,” he instructed The Times in 1988, “there is often a trauma, and for me the trauma was hearing always that everything was very dangerous.”

He began portray and drawing as a younger teenager, and sometimes credited an older brother with being the primary to inform him he could possibly be an artist. He was self-taught, having dropped out of college at 12, and, he acknowledged, it took him a while to seek out his means.

“I made many canvases that are now luckily destroyed; they were very close to outsider art,” he instructed the artwork journal Apollo in 2018. “And then I met people, I grew up, I made strange films and bit by bit I entered into an artistic system.”

By the 1970s he was making conceptual works, typically utilizing discovered objects, outdated pictures acquired at flea markets or culled from newspapers, and related detritus.

“I’ve used a lot of biscuit tins in my work,” he mentioned, “and at the beginning they were more personal somehow because I peed on them to make them rust. But I was using so many boxes that I couldn’t do this any more, so I started using Coca-Cola to rust them.”

“Odessa’s Ghosts,” an set up at an structure museum in Moscow, a part of the primary Moscow Biennale, which occurred in 2005.Credit…Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris; James Hill for The New York Time

A pile of discarded garments in 1995 was his contribution to a gaggle exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London referred to as “Take Me I’m Yours” — guests have been invited to assist themselves to the clothes.

“There are two things that are forbidden in a museum normally — to touch and to steal — and here you can both touch and steal as much as you want,” he instructed the artwork web site americansuburbx.com 20 years later when he revisited the concept for an exhibition at La Monnaie in Paris. “The deeper aspect is the question of the meaning of the relic.”

Also in 1995 Mr. Boltanski created an set up in New York that stretched the size of Manhattan, requiring guests to cease at a number of areas the place he had positioned shows.

“A visit to Christian Boltanski’s ‘Lost: New York Projects’ requires a handful of subway tokens and an hour or two of travel,” Holland Cotter wrote in reviewing the work in The Times, “from a church at the top of Manhattan to a synagogue at the bottom, with stops at a museum and a train station in between. The tour is well worth making, less for Mr. Boltanski’s Minimalist installations at each site — a pile of old clothes here, a taped voice there — than for the way his work calls attention to and subtly poeticizes some of the city’s most richly atmospheric spaces.”

Mr. Boltanski at the New-York Historical Society with a part of his 1995 conceptual work “Lost: New York Projects.”Credit…Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP; Chester Higgins Jr., through The New York Times

Mr. Boltanski is survived by his spouse, the artist Annette Messager; and two brothers, Luc and Jean-Elie.

In 2017 Mr. Boltanski created an set up in a distant a part of Patagonia, in South America, that included some giant horns; when the wind blew by them, they might create the sound of whale calls.

“Maybe in a hundred years my name will be forgotten,” he instructed Wallpaper in 2018, “but someone will say, ‘There was a man who came here and talked to whales.’”