From 12 October to 6 November, the Palace of Versailles, the Musée du Louvre and the Centre Pompidou will be hosting an exceptional exhibition in homage to the life and work of Christian Boltanski, in partnership with the Opéra Comique.

"The more we work, the more we disappear and the more we become our work. I believe that artists wish to become their work (...)"
– Christian Boltanski

The Palace of Versailles, the Musée du Louvre, the Centre Pompidou and the Opéra Comique are paying homage to the “impossible life of Christian Boltanski", who died on 14 July this year.

The four establishments have joined together for the first time to invite the public to remember. To remember, as the artist always endeavoured to do, to combat finitude and forgetting, reconstituting the lives of beings with all their "small memories" in order to sketch a fragile and disturbing form of the collective memory of humanity.


An exceptional exhibition that invites visitors to (re)discover the artist's emblematic works:

Fosse, an opera by Christian Boltanski, Jean Kalman and Franck Krawczyk

A commission by the Opéra-Comique 
Centre Pompidou car park, Forum -1
Tuesday 12 October 2021, from 6pm. 

Fosse, january 2020

© Stefan Brion pour l'Opéra Comique

Fosse was the highlight of the retrospective titled “Life in the Making”, held in January 2020, and will be performed in the Centre Pompidou’s car park once again as part of this homage on 12 October.
As a prelude to the opera, Annette Messager will plunge the audience into a timeless world, offering an experience filled with art and mystery. 
Imagined with composer Franck Krawczyk and light creator designer Jean Kalman, this unusual opera has neither beginning nor end and invites each spectator to pick up the thread of a story. 
Lights, errant souls, musicians and actors bring to life this opera of a new kind in which the movements of the public are also part of the work, transforming the car park of the Centre Pompidou into a Dantean cave that resounds to the voice of soprano Karen Vourc’h, accompanied by twenty-eight choir singers of the Accentus ensemble, the music of thirteen cellos, including that of Sonia Wieder-Atherton, six pianos, percussion and electric guitar in an artistic coordination orchestrated by Plein Jour.

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The Speaking Clock (2003)

Palace of Versailles
The Royal Chapel
From 12 October to 6 November 2021

The Royal Chapel, Palace of Versailles

© Thomas Garnier / EPV

Christian Boltanski

“It’s a parable. To be human is to fight against God –
or chance, depending on the name you give it – but there is one
domain where we will always lose: time.” 

To pay homage to Christian Boltanski, the Royal Chapel of the Palace of Versailles will be hosting a speaking clock made by the artist. 
From 12 October to 6 November 2021, visitors will be able discover this sound work designed in 2003 and made in 2009 for the crypt of Salzburg Cathedral in Austria, now reactivated for the first time since its creation. 
Reopened after three years of restoration, the Royal Chapel will be filled from its altar to its vault with the lilting sound of the hours, minutes and seconds. 
The work is free to view for visitors with a Passport or Palace ticket. 

The Christian Boltanski Archives, 1965-1988 (1989)

Musée du Louvre
Grande Galerie, Denon Wing, first floor
From 13 October 2021 to 10 January 2022

The Christian Boltanski Archives, 1965-1988, 1989.
Metal, lamps, electric wires, black and white and colour photographs, paper
Collection Centre pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, dist. Rmn-GP

© Philippe Migeat / Adagp, Paris, 2021 

Christian Boltanski

“Preserving oneself completely, keeping a trace of every instant,
every object that engaged with us, everything we said and
was said around us.”

Composed of more than 600 rusty biscuit tins, the monumental installation titled The Christian Boltanski Archives, 1965-1989 will be presented to the public in the prestigious Grande Galerie in the Louvre. 
The work illustrates the artist’s life project and includes nearly 2000 photographs and documents collected by the artist to constitute his own memorial. 

The impossible life of Christian Boltanski (2001)

Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne
Contemporary Collection - Rooms 17 to 19, Level 4
From 13 October 2021 to 13 April 2022

The Impossible Life of C.B., 2021.
Wood, wire mesh, fluorescent tubes, electric wires, paper, photographs
Collection Centre pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, dist. Rmn-GP

© Philippe Migeat / Adagp, Paris, 2021

Christian Boltanski

“Yes, it’s my heart, but that’s not important”

Christian Boltanski was determined to master death and time and started to collect traces of his own and everyone else’s lives early on in his work, in the form of sound and visual evocations, albums, archives and even monuments. 
The impossible life of C.B. – the title of the artist's first film and his first monographic exhibition - is composed of photographs and documents that are as personal as they are derisory. Made in 2001, the work resembles a visual autobiography and will be presented alongside the Reference Windows, which are like an impossible archaeology of his childhood. The exhibition in the Musée National d'Art Moderne closes with Heart, made in 2005, which is a recording of the artist's heartbeat transcribed through a flashing bulb, its rhythmic illuminations blurring the boundaries between presence and absence.

Cœur, 2005
Light bulb, amplifiers, box to transform the sound of heartbeats
into a flashing light, recordings.
Antoine de Galbert Collection, Paris, Courtesy Christian Boltanski

© Wolfgang Günzel /  Adagp, Paris, 2021



This homage has been produced in association with the following cultural establishments:

Practical Information

Opening times:
The Palace Versailles is open every day from 9am to 6.30pm except on Mondays.

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Booking is compulsory, including for visitors eligible for free admission.
A health pass is required. More information on visit conditions

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