Christian Boltanski
Christian Boltanski

Second floor

Photographs feature in the works of Christian Boltanski (b. 1944; d. 2021). Since the late 1960s, Boltanski has worked with photographs taken from everyday sources with the goal of creating an art which is indistinguishable from life, appropriating ordinary situations and shared cultural memories. If walls could talk, perhaps we could find out the identities of the people whose images comprise the work Humans, whose individuality the artist consciously shrouds, rephotographing images from a range of sources, from family albums to newspapers or police files, captured in black and white and clipping them in very close shots, all the same size, for the final setting.

Humans is presented in gallery 204, which at just 25 m2 is one of the smallest in the entire Museum. On the artist’s instructions, the arrangement of the photographs is random to allow for new interpretations with each installation and avoid imposing a single narrative. The artist’s only guidelines were to fill the gallery walls as much as possible and to solely use incandescent light bulbs. Achieving an intimate atmosphere is essential to the visitors’ experience, as they enter this forest of lights and faces.

Original title: Humans
Date: 1994
Medium / Materials: Photographs and lights
Total dimensions variable
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa