Sims Reed Rare Books×

(Recherche et Présentation de Tout Ce Qui Reste de Mon Enfance)

Boltanski, Christian

(Paris). (201, boulevard Saint-Germain). 1969
The very scarce first edition of Christian Boltanski's fragile and ephemeral first artist book.

From the edition limited to (approximately) 150 copies, this copy dated and initialled by Boltanski in pencil to the verso of the final leaf 'mai / 1.969 / C. B'; c.100 copies were mailed to selected people at the time of publication.

Christian Boltanski (1944 - 1921) based much of his work, his artist books in particular, on the efforts to reconstruct his own past. In the present work, his first artist book published in the form of reproductions of family photographs, scraps of a sweater, some hair, a sample of his hand-writing in 1950 and other relics of his childhood, Boltanski offers details of a mythical youth (see below for the full contents). In reality, and as Boltanski himself admits, several of these personal relics belonged to his brother or his nephews.

This first edition, as opposed to the stapled reissue in differing format and with different content included in 'Reconstitution' (1991), includes Boltanski's important text - it reads as a manifesto - in the form of a letter. In it Boltanski suggests he must set a precedent, an example and presents the artistic aim of his oeuvre: ' ... j'ai décidé de m'atteler au projet qui me tient à coeur depuis longtemps : se conserver tout entier, garder une trace de tous les instants de notre vie, de tout les objets qui nous ont cotoyés, de tout ce que nous avons dit et de ce qui a été dit autour de nous, voilà mon but.'

'Contient 13 illustrations : une photo de classe prise au Collège d'Hulst (1950-1951) ; christian boltanski jouant aux cubes (1946), des cubes de christian boltanski retrouvés en 1969 ; le lit de christian boltanski (1947-1950) ; la chemise de christian boltanski (mars 1949) ; un morceau d'un pull over porté par boltanski en 1949 ; les cheveux de boltanski (1949) ; christian boltanski en famille dans le var (1948) ; christian boltanski à Paris en 1945 ; christian boltanski sur la plage de Beg Neil dans le Morbihan en 1945 ; Marie Boltanski, la mère de l'artiste sur la plage de Pénarf dans le Morbihan en 1949 ; Etienne Boltanski, le père de l'artiste sur la plage de Pénarf la même année ; Christian Boltanski avec des amis à la Baule en 1950.' (From the catalogue of the Bibliothèque Kandinsky).

'I'm interested in shared memories; so I felt no remorse about putting 'Christian Boltanski's bed' when it was my nephew's bed. The relic aspect doesn't interest me, because it's too closely linked to one person.' (Christian Boltanski).

'Recherche et Présentation de Tout Ce Qui Reste de Mon Enfance', given its ephemeral form, is scarce on the market and in institutions and we locate only a handful of copies: at the BNF, Bibliothèque Kandinsky and Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet in France, a copy at the Kunstbiblio Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in Germany, a copy in Poland at Kraków's Biblioteka Główna Akademii Sztuk Pięknych, a copy at the Chelsea College of Arts in London and copies at Yale and Princeton in the US. The cataloguing for many of these examples is confusing: Princeton and Yale indicate their copies lack the title (there is no title), the Chelsea College lists the publisher of their copy as Edition Givaudon (?) and many of the other listed copies are described as consisting of eight pages; whether these copies are complete or not, the book is very rare with only a single copy (at Artcurial in 2009) reported in book auction records.

[Calle (1), pp. 12 - 13; see 'Inventaires de Christian Boltanski', Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1973; see also 'Reconstitution', 1991, for the reissue].
[9 unnumbered irregularly cut leaves]. Oblong 8vo. (c.176 x 266 mm). Cover leaf with full-page monochrome image of a class photo including Boltanski, leaf with explanatory typed letter with typed signature and dated 'Paris, mai 1969' and seven leaves with reproduction images and explanatory text (15 illustrations in total); all leaves of thick white wove stock photocopied as issued and printed recto only in monochrome; final leaf verso signed and dated 'mai / 1.969 / C. B' by Boltanski in pencil. Loose as issued, the leaves held by a transparent plastic spine.