esprits
christian
Immerse yourself into the world of a French art legend
boltanskI
esprits
13 March – 15 May 2022
Christian Boltanski’s first-ever solo exhibition in Russia
Manege Central Exhibition Hall
“For me, the exhibition is not only what is shown. It begins as soon as you enter, as soon as the visitor himself pushes the door open.” – Christian Boltanski
“I wish I could find some word connected with ghosts. But one that is tied to the idea of a return from the land of the dead rather than any particular place.”
The art of Christian Boltanski bears the mark of the historic events that coincided with his early childhood years. His father Étienne Alexandre Boltanski was a physician who descended from a family of Jewish immigrants from Odessa. Christian was born at the end of the Second World War, just a few days after the Nazi occupation of Paris was lifted. His full name was Christian Liberté Boltanski.
Christian Boltanski (1944–2021) was one of contemporary art’s most outstanding and influential figures.
Christian Boltanski on the exhibition at the Manege
Christian Boltanski, Monumenta 2010, Grand Palais, Paris
© Christian Boltanski / ADAGP, Paris, 2019, photo by Didier Plowy
Boltanski worked successfully in figurative painting, photography, sculpture, and stage and film directing. In the 1980s, he took up the genre of immersive spatial installations and video art.

In the 1960s he began to develop a “personal ethnology”, influenced by Claude Lévi Strauss and Harald Szeemann, among others. At the same time, drawing on museology, Boltanski exhibited inventories of items from anonymous owners. It is often the case in Boltanski's work that object (photos, pieces of clothing, bells, flowers...) give voice to absent subjects and invite the viewer to meditation and contemplation.

Since his first exhibition at Le Ranelagh cinema in 1968, Boltanski's work has been shown in numerous countries.

In the early 2000s, Boltanski began working on large-size art installations and contributing to multiple musical performances. He continued to enhance the complexity of his installation art, adding sound effects and motion. Boltanski’s installation work belongs to the genre known as “Total Art”.
“I believe in ghosts. I think the world is full of spirits, and they are among us.”
Conversation between Christian Boltanski and Hiroshi Sugimoto in Lifetime, ed. National Art Center Tokyo, Suiseisha, p. 110.
Moved, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany, 2013 © Christian Boltanski, ADAGP, Paris, 2021 Courtesy: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg © Photo credits: Renato Ghiazza
Recent solo shows have been at Busan Museum of Art, Korea (2021); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2019); Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo, Japan (2019); The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan and the National Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2019); The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2018); The Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China (2018); Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2017); Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy (2017); The Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey, Mexico (2016); Instituto Valenciano Arte Moderno (IVAM), Spain (2016); Mac's Grand Hornu, Belgium (2015); and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile (2014).

Boltanski was honoured with several awards over his lifetime, including the Praemium Imperiale Award (2006) and the Kaiser Ring Award (2001). He participated in Documenta (1977 and 1972) and numerous Venice Biennales (2011, 1995, 1993, 1980 and 1975).
“I try to create mythology. ... Perhaps in one hundred years everybody is going to forget me. But there will be a legend that there was this crazy guy who arrived to speak with the whales.”
Conversation between Christian Boltanski and Hiroshi Sugimoto in Lifetime, ed. National Art Center Tokyo, Suiseisha, p. 108.
Moved, 2013, exhibition view "Storage Memory" at Power Station of Art, Shanghai, 2018 © Christian Boltanski / ADAGP, Paris, 2021 © Power Station of Art, Shanghai, photo by Jiang Wenyi
Boltanski’s project concept offers insights into subjects he has always accorded paramount importance: loss, memories, existential choices, fate, and personal and collective history. After the artist’s death, the team kept continued work on the project, using the materials, blueprints, and thoughts Christian left behind.

Boltanski himself selected those of his works from the past 10 to 15 years – large installations, video artworks, and art objects – to be exhibited at Manege. Some of his new pieces will be on public display for the first time: he created them as he reflected on events from Russian history and attempted to immerse himself in them more fully.
ESPRITS is one of the last exhibitions to which Boltanski had personally contributed.
Personnes (Persons/Nobodies), exhibition view "Storage Memory" at Power Station of Art, Shanghai, 2018 © Christian Boltanski / ADAGP, Paris, 2021/ © Power Station of Art, Shanghai, photo by Jiang Wenyi
Someone
once
explained
...to me that in Shinto shrines, in sanctuaries, there are a series of passages from one room to another, and in the last room is a mirror, which means that in the end, what do we see? We only see ourselves.”
Christian Boltanski
Your guides on this journey will be the artist’s team as well as the leading art critics, curators, and philosophers who knew Christian personally. All of them will share their memories of him with you.
Immerse yourself in the artistic world of Christian Boltanski and learn about the codes and meaning behind his work.
“Christian Boltanski left us on 14 July 2021: Bastille Day. Given that Christian never tired of repeating that his second name was Liberty, this would have made me smile had not his death been such a shock.”
“But it is the artist’s privilege to lead us where we are not expecting him to be.”
Bernard Blistène
ROOMS
Après, exhibition «Après» at MAC VAL - Musée d'Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, France, 2010
© Christian Boltanski / ADAGP, Paris 2021/ © Photo by Jacques Faujour

"I believe in ghosts. I think the world is full of spirits among us."
Conversation between Christian Boltanski and Hiroshi Sugimoto in Lifetime, ed. National Art Center Tokyo, Suiseisha, p. 110.
ROOM 1
Opening in
MARCH
EVA ALBARRAN & CO TEAM
The Eva Albarran agency has worked for Christian Boltanski since 2010, and has assisted the artist in all his projects and exhibitions worldwide.
ENJIN YANG
Opening in
room 2
International Curator at Busan Museum of Art, Korea.
APRIL
ROOM 3
Opening iN
APRIL
ANNALISA RIMMAUDO
Doctor of Contemporary Art History (University of Sorbonne Paris), assistant curator at Musée National d’art Moderne – Centre Pompidou.
ROOM 5
Opening in
MAY
CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI
BERNARD BLISTÈNE
Opening in
room 4
Honourary director of the Musée National d’art Moderne – Centre Pompidou.
MAY