Lumieres (blue square - Sylvie)

Artist Christian Boltanski (French, born in 1944)


221 x 129.5 cm (87 x 51 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Forty-eight blue light bulbs and brass sockets, wires, copy of black and white photograph framed between Plexiglas and cardboard sealed with black tape.

Not On View


Contemporary Art, Europe



Boltanski builds altars to memory and loss. Naked bulbs cast a ghostly blue glow around photos he finds at antique shops and flea markets. We cannot really make eye contact with “Sylvie,” who is out of focus and obscured by the wire; the piece mimics the way memories shift and fade. Boltanski was deeply affected by his Jewish father’s stories of hiding in Paris during World War II. We don’t know if Sylvie was also a hidden person, or even if Sylvie was Jewish, but Boltanski transforms her into an icon of humanity.


The artist; with Marian Goodman Gallery, New York; purchased by MFA, Boston, June 27, 2001

Credit Line

Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Fund


© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.