Top 25 Quotes & Sayings by Christian Boltanski

Explore popular quotes and sayings by a French sculptor Christian Boltanski.
Christian Boltanski

Christian Liberté Boltanski was a French sculptor, photographer, painter, and film maker. He is best known for his photography installations and contemporary French conceptual style.

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There are very few times in creation in your life. One time is when you become an adult, one time is when your parents die, and the other time is when you are very old.
You are what you are because your parents made love at that exact moment, and if they made love one second after you would be different.
... in the eyes of its visitors, Venice has no reality of its own. Anyone visiting the place has already seen so many pictures of it that they can only attempt to view it via these clichés, and they take home photographs of Venice that are similar to the ones they already knew. Venice [is] becoming like one of those painted backdrops that photographers use in their studio.
The sole fact of having a school to train creative people is absolute lunacy... The idea of 'pedagogical vision' is ignoble, it has nothing to do with art, it's contrary to art. I really believe in teaching, despite what I say.
We all die twice - once when we actually die and once when no one on earth recognizes our photograph. — © Christian Boltanski
We all die twice - once when we actually die and once when no one on earth recognizes our photograph.
The photo replaces the memory. When someone dies, after a while you can't visualize them anymore, you only remember them through their pictures.
Every time I ask questions about sex, I always end up asking questions about death.
In science we see progress. In art there is no progress. In art the questions have always been the same. From the beginning of time till now, we are always asking the same questions. There are very few. We are looking for God, we are asking why we die, we are contemplating sex and the beauty of nature. The only thing that changes is that, in each period of questioning, we speak with the language of our time.
You are what you are because your parents made love at that exact moment, and if they made love one second after you would be different. The fact that you were born means that there are no other children born because of you - you've killed them in a way. Is it destiny? Was it written somewhere that this was to be your life? Is it useful that you are here? Or is it simply by chance?
I was lucky to be born during the time of minimalism. I think I can be colder because of this. In form I speak with minimalism but my feeling is sentimental - I am a sentimental minimalist.
In most of my photographic pieces I have manipulated the quality of the evidence that people assign to photography, in order to subvert it, or to show that photography lies - that what it conveys is not reality but a set of cultural codes.
The more you work, the less you exist. I believe (at least, I used to believe, because I no longer think this is entirely true) that the artist is like someone carrying a mirror in which everyone can look and recognize themselves, so that the person who carries the mirror ends up being nothing.
Photography is used to give evidence, and the evidence is always deceiving.
The science about life is very optimistic. Every second, four people in the world die, and six are born. This is optimistic.
The fact that you were born means that there are no other children born because of you – you’ve killed them in a way.
I like looking at the finger of God. Why it takes one and not another, why this one or that one, why now or why then. The finger of God is always on us. When you get older and you see your friends dying around you, you say "Why not me?" That machine is always there.
I think it is very important to know that we are going to die. Now we refuse the fact of dying. There was once serenity in dying where you had all your children around you in a ceremony and would utter your last words with something like, 'I love the sky'.
I think that all human activity is stupid. Artistic activity is also stupid, but you can see it more clearly.
We're painting the same people all our life - it's just the way we look at them that changes. If you experience trauma, you can speak about it in so many different ways. You can speak about landscape, you can speak about your food; it's always different. Trauma is the beginning of life as an artist.
Art-making is not about telling the truth but making the truth felt
I believe that at the beginning of the life of every artist there is some kind of trauma. We have a problem and all of our life we try to speak about this problem. My trauma was historical. When I was three or four, all the friends of my parents were survivors of the Holocaust; they spoke a lot about that. My father was hiding during the war, it was something totally present when I was a boy. It is sure that it has made me.
I've filled my whole life trying to preserve the memory of living, in the fight against dying. Perhaps the only thing I've done, since stopping death is impossible, is to show this fight. The fight itself does not satisfy us either.
It's pretentious to say, but my art is like a little Zen story, a story with a question mark at the end. People can take from it what they need. If somebody says, "Your art is very funny," I say, "You are totally right." If somebody says, "Your art is very sad," I say, "You are totally right." In Japan they say, "Your art is very Japanese, you even look Japanese.Your great-grandfather was most surely a Japanese man." And I say, "You are totally right."
I never take photographs myself. I don’t feel like a photographer, more like a recycler — © Christian Boltanski
I never take photographs myself. I don’t feel like a photographer, more like a recycler
When I was four or five years old, I heard a lot of stories about the Holocaust because both my parents were survivors. I'm sure that was very important in my life. My father snuck out from under the floorboards to make love to my mother. I can't imagine why they kept me.
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