Claire Barliant

  • The Possible Life of Christian Boltanski

    On a date in the late 1960s with Annette Messager, the woman who would become his wife, Christian Boltanski wiped off his hands, postdinner, by running them through his hair (much to Messager’s shock). He’d learned the questionable habit from his father, a doctor who believed the practice helped make his hair “beautiful.” The artist’s disclosure comes in one of a series of interviews by curator Catherine Grenier, which she has pieced together to form the absorbing, if flawed, autobiography The Possible Life of Christian Boltanski.

    The likable schlemiel is Boltanski’s default persona, and the

  • culture May 29, 2009

    The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy by Rachel Cusk

    At its worst, the travel memoir can be formulaic to the extreme. A typical narrative begins with the author’s nagging sense of mediocrity and boredom, which then feeds into a desire for adventure and change, and often culminates in some form of the New Agey idiom “wherever you go, there you are.” Rachel Cusk’s latest book follows this formula to a point before turning it roundly on its head. The Last Supper is not only an account of the author’s journey to Italy, it is also a meditation on art and autonomy. Fearful of falling into a dull, dreary routine, Cusk and her husband sell their house