PRINT April 1989


In today’s newsletter, the editors look back at a project created by French artists Christian Boltanski and Annette Messager for Artforum’s April 1989 issue. Boltanski passed away on July 14 at the age of seventy-six.

“Protection”—the tender, eerie project created by Christian Boltanski and Annette Messager for Artforum’s April 1989 issue—comprises two photographs by Boltanski, each facing an image of a sculpture by Messager; in effect, the artists created two diptychs, a kind of call-and-response across four pages of the magazine. The first of his muzzy black-and-white snaps is of a child soundly sleeping next to a stuffed animal; it is paired with a sweet creature Messager made of a stuffed toy bunny head atop a doll’s body. Around its neck hangs a black-and white photo of a hand positioned as though holding the animal, whose feet are perched over the word “protection,” which is written over and over in red on the wall behind it. Boltanski and Messager were partners not merely on these works but also in life. When one looks at this project now—its conjuring of childhood, of innocence, of care under threat—what is striking is the way in which its use of found materials speaks to how two people might find each other, put themselves together just so, and make art of their lives.

—The Editors