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Maker(s):Boltanski, Christian
Culture:French (1944-2021)
Title:Gymnasium Chases
Date Made:1989-1991
Type:Portfolio; Print
Materials:Portfolio of 24 photogravure prints on Somerset Satin paper in a galvanized metal portfolio box
Measurements:Image: 18 1/8 x 12 1/2 in; 46 x 31.7 cm; Each Sheet: 23 3/8 x 16 5/8 in; 59.4 x 42.2 cm
Narrative Inscription:  SIGNATURE/DATE: title page, recto, lwr. r. (graphite): C. Boltanski | 1991; EDITION: title page, lwr. l. (graphite): A.P. | 10; EDITION: title page, lwr. r. (graphite): AP 10; PRINTER'S BLIND STAMP: recto, each print, lwr. r. (embossed stamp, no ink) CPP; PRINTERS STAMP: verso, each print, lwr. l. (grey ink): Crown Point Press | Daria Sywvlak; EDITION: verso, each print, lwr. r. (graphite): AP 10; PRINT ORDER NUMBERS: verso, each print, upp. l. (graphite): 1-23
Accession Number:  UM 2024.3.1-24
Credit Line:Purchase with the Lois B. Torf (Class of 1946) Collecting Fund and donations from Adrienne B. Torf and Andrew Witkin, in honor of Loretta Yarlow
Museum Collection:  University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

Label Text:
Christian Boltanski was born in Paris in 1944 in the wake of its liberation from Fascist control (he died in Paris in 2021). Perhaps as a result of his childhood experiences, he explored themes of memory, death, and mourning in film, paint, photography, and found objects. Boltanski began exhibiting by presenting inventories and images where the objects on display (photographs, clothing, etc.) give voice to absent subjects and memorialize anonymous individual loss.

“Gymnasium Chases” is part of a series that Boltanski began in 1987, inspired by a found photograph of the 1931 graduating class from a private Jewish high school in Vienna, Austria, prior to Nazi rule. The artist rephotographed, enlarged, and isolated each student’s face, creating images that are balanced between individual and universal traits. The portraits are haunting in their soft-focus. Almost reduced to silhouettes, the group of images, together comprise a moving memorial, a meditation on loss and endurance, and an engagement with the fate of the memory of the dead. - Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston

Boltanski wrote, in French, on the cover sheet:
“They are gathered for the last time. .. What have they become after so many years, what kind of life have they had? One of them recognized himself in this photograph, he escaped the horror and now lives in New York, of the others I know nothing.”

black and white; classes; documentation; education; emotion; faces; French; genocide; Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945); installations; memorials; memory; mourning; photographs; portfolios; portraits; racism; shadows; social commentary; students; stylization; teenagers; text; tragedy; war victims

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