• Christian Boltanski

    Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris
    11 avenue du Président Wilson
    May 14–October 4, 1998

    In an attempt to avoid the totalizing view that comes with a retrospective, Christian Boltanski has opted instead for a show that sticks to the last ten years of his work—a period that’s seen him reach the pinnacle of the French art scene. Curator Béatrice Parent is orchestrating this shadowy, hushed display through the installation of eight large works comprising photos, old clothing, and abandoned objects—at once discreet and monumental—that revolve around the torments of memory. Like all of Boltanski’s work, the whole is taken in bit by bit, bathed in a dimly lit atmosphere that is at once agonizing, intimate, and sacred.

  • Max Ernst: Sculptures, Houses, and Landscapes

    Centre Pompidou
    Place Georges-Pompidou
    May 6–July 27, 1998

    Everyone’s pretty familiar with Max Ernst by now, right? Curators Werner Spies and Fabrice Hergott hope to offer a new perspective by playing down Ernst the painter in favor of Ernst the sculptor in a show organized around the artist’s numerous residencies (and the impact of changing surroundings on his sculptural forms). What unifies the work is Ernst’s good humor in pieces made during sojourns at the poet Paul Eluard’s in Eaubonne, at Giacometti’s home in Maloja, at his own home in Saint-Martin d’Ardèche, or even during stays on Long Island or amid the sandstone canyons of Sedona, Arizona. In the end, it seems taking time off in the country doesn’t hurt the art at all. May 6-July 27; travels to Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Sept. 5-Nov. 28.

  • Biennale de l’Image

    École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts
    14 rue Bonaparte
    May 12–July 12, 1998

    It’s a common complaint today that media bombardment has stripped the image of all meaning. For some of the youngest participants in this first edition of the Biennale de l’Image (curator Régis Durand, director of the Centre Nationale de Photographie, has selected an international group of artists largely under thirty-five), image saturation is apparently a given; whether working in video, on computers, or with a camera, they take the image as medium rather than message—a decision as second nature to them as acrylic was for Color Field painters. A new type of art may emerge from this strategy, one marked by the dialectic between opacity and transparency—not to mention the intimacy always associated with picture-taking.

  • Support/Surface Years

    Jeu de Paume
    1 place de la Concorde
    May 18–August 30, 1998

    Just as Johannes Itten’s influential Bauhaus courses were once described as an “expressionist jam,” the work of the French artists affiliated with the ’70s support/surface movement could be called “conceptual jam.” This bizarre hodgepodge—part formalist reflection, part Maoist discourse—covers a wide aesthetic spectrum in the work of such affiliates as Louis Cane, Daniel Dezeuze, and Claude Viallat. It’s an irony of art history that, with this show of sixty-four works curated by Daniel Abadie, director of the Jeu de Paume, the support/surface sloganeering can even play into the hands of cultural guardians—in this case those of the host institution, which seems to be attempting to regild French art’s coat of arms. May 18-Aug. 30; travels to ten additional venues.