12 January - 17 February 2018
Librairie

Christian Boltanski

Saynètes Comiques
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Overview

Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to present at the Librairie an exhibition of works by Christian Boltanski. The artist invites us to rediscover his series Saynètes Comiques created in 1974. A new limited edition, numbered and signed by the artist, has been especially published for the occasion: it is a boxed, lenticular photograph entitled La Mort pour rire (Death for a Laugh).

Christian Boltanski: Saynètes Comiques
12 January – 17 February 2018 

Opening Reception: 12 January, 6–8 pm

Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to present at the Librairie an exhibition of works by Christian Boltanski. The artist invites us to rediscover his series Saynètes Comiques created in 1974. A new limited edition, numbered and signed by the artist, has been especially published for the occasion: it is a boxed, lenticular photograph entitled La Mort pour rire (Death for a Laugh).

The series begins with the creation of a fictional character inspired by the German burlesque actor Karl Valentin. “I got the idea of telling the story of my childhood, since this was my ‘brand image,’ but in a new way, in a clownish way.” The artist thus reenacted a few defining moments of his presumed childhood in the form of sketches (the death of the grandfather, a birthday, a visit to a doctor, etc.) and one after another took on the various family roles in black-and-white photographs. “This is really very fake. Everything is made-up; it is inspired from a rather normal childhood with, occasionally, what I enjoyed, vaguely psychoanalytic allusions.”

Similar episodes (The grandfather’s scolding; The forced family dinner; or The unjust punishment, etc.) are enacted in a film in which Boltanski plays the role of one of his parents or grandparent, while a ventriloquist dummy dressed up as a child is cast as the “Petit Christian.” “The Saynètes Comiques were more of a work on the tragic. I didn’t do them to make people laugh; it was a work on the human condition, the idea of a clown, but not a funny clown.”

The exhibition also includes other works from the series: touched-up photographs using colored oil crayon in a style inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters, as well as a selection of artist’s books published in 1974 and 1975.

While the characters, décors, and situations may seem laughable or even grotesque, the series is nevertheless serious and iconoclast. Boltanski distances himself from his earlier work, in particular from the pseudo-ethnographic manner in which he documented and constructed a legend around his childhood (with his works Essais de Réconstitution des Gestes Effectués dans mon EnfanceInventaires d’Objets de mon EnfanceAlbums photographiques, etc.).

Like another seminal work created two years earlier and entitled L’Album Photographique de la Famille D., Saynètes comiquesillustrate Boltanski’s ever-present desire to create “a sort of universal history of memory.” Indeed all the “saynètes” evoke universal memories rather than Boltanski’s actual childhood memories.

For several decades, Christian Boltanski (born in 1944 in Paris; lives and works in Malakoff) has been producing a large number of significant international projects. His most recent exhibitions include NA at Oude Kerk in Amsterdam (on view until April 29, 2018); Anime. Di luogo in luogo at the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Bologna – MAMbo (2017); La salle des pendus at Mac’s Grand Hornu (2016); and Almas at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago, Chili (2014).

He is currently preparing several retrospective exhibitions at major institutions such as Power Station in Shanghai (Spring 2018); Israel Museum in Jerusalem (June 1st –October 31, 2018); National Art Center in Tokyo (2019); and Centre Pompidou (September 2019). The Marian Goodman Gallery in London will for the first time feature his work from April 12 to May 10, 2018.

Press contact:
Raphaële Coutant raphaele@mariangoodman.com +33 (0)1 48 04 70 52

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