- Contemporary Art at the Gardner
- ExhibitionsCurrent ExhibitionsPast Exhibitions
- Carla Fernández: The Barefoot Designer: A Passion for Radical Design and Community
- Sophie Calle: Last Seen
- Hamra Abbas: Wall Hanging I
- Adam Pendleton: Untitled
- Raqs Media Collective: The Great Bare Mat & Constellation
- Stefano Arienti: Wild Carrot
- Luisa Lambri: Portrait
- Magic Moments: The Screen and the Eye–9 Artists 9 Projections
- (TAPESTRY) RADIO ON: New Work by Victoria Morton at the Gardner
- Points of View: 20 Years Artists-in-Residence at the Gardner
- Stefano Arienti: Ailanthus
- Danijel Zezelj: Once
- Taro Shinoda: Lunar Reflections
- Su-Mei Tse: Floating Memories
- Luisa Rabbia: Travels with Isabella, Travel Scrapbooks 1883/2008
- Cliff Evans: Empyrean
- Stefano Arienti: The Asian Shore
- Sculpture and Memory: Works from the Gardner and by Luigi Ontani
- Henrik Håkansson: Cyanopsitta spixii Case Study #001
- Michele Iodice: A Pagan Feast
- Variations On a Theme by Sol Lewitt and Paula Robison
- Danijel Zezelj: Stray Dogs
- Dayanita Singh: Chairs
- Maurizio Cannavacciuolo: TV Dinner
- Elaine Reichek: madamimadam
- Joseph Kosuth: Artist, Curator, Collector
- Nari Ward: Episodes: Bus Park & Forevermore
- Manfred Bischoff
- Ackroyd & Harvey: Presence
- Laura Owens
- Denise Marika: New Works by Denise Marika
- Dorit Cypis: The Body in the Picture
- Artists By Year
Sophie Calle: Last Seen
OCTOBER 24, 2013–MARCH 3, 2014 | HOSTETTER GALLERY
Sophie Calle: Last Seen included Calle’s 1991 Gardner-inspired work on display for the first time at the Gardner, as well as new work created in 2012.
The 14 photographic and text based works in Last Seen consist of two distinct series. The first, created in 1991, titled Last Seen… is a series of photographs and texts created shortly after the 1990 theft during which 13 objects were stolen from the Museum. The second series, titled What Do You See?, includes new work which Calle made in 2012 at the Museum while revisiting the earlier project.
In 1990, during an exhibition of Calle’s work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Calle was interviewed for a Parkett magazine article by Sheena Wagstaff. At Calle’s request the interview took place at the Gardner in front of Jan Vermeer’s 1658–60 painting The Concert, one of Calle’s favorite paintings. Later that March, the painting became one of the thirteen works stolen from the Museum. Wagstaff later jokingly hinted that perhaps Calle was responsible for the theft. This suggestion spurred Calle to consider creating a project focused on the Gardner’s stolen works.
While standing in front of the empty spaces on the Museum walls where works were once hung, Calle asked curators, guards, conservators, and other Museum staff members what they remembered of the missing pieces. Calle used text from the interviews and the photographic images to create a visual meditation on absence and memory, as well as reflection on the emotional power works of art hold on their viewers.
In 2012, the Gardner invited Calle to revisit her Last Seen… project, which had never been viewed in Boston. Since Calle’s 1991 work in the Museum, the empty frames that once held the absent works had been reinstalled in the galleries, literally framing the emptiness.
In creating her new project, What Do You See?, Calle once again questioned people in the Museum’s Dutch Room, but this time she did not mention the missing paintings to the staff and visitors with whom she spoke. She asked each viewer to respond to what they saw before them.
Last Seen… was first shown at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh in 1991. Since then, it has been presented, in its entirety or in abridged form, at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum in Hanover, New Hampshire; Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne; the Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; and the Portalen, Koge Bugt Kulturhus, Copenhagen. Last Seen… was also featured as part of a Calle survey show organized in 2003 by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which traveled to the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen; the Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.
Image: What Do You See? (Vermeer, The Concert), (detail), 2013. ©2013 Sophie Calle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Sophie Calle, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.
Media sponsor: Boston Globe Media, Inc. Additional exhibition support provided by the Consulate General of France in Boston and Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. Thursday evening lectures are made possible in part by the Barbara Lee Program Fund. The Museum receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Since the late 1970s, Sophie Calle (b. 1953) has made work that investigates provocative and often controversial methods for confronting her emotional and psychological life. She is well-known for her sleuth-like explorations of human relationships, which led her to follow a stranger in the streets of Venice and document his every move, and to find work as a hotel chambermaid in order to photograph the belongings of the hotel’s guests. Calle’s work has been shown in international venues including the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Museum Boymans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo).
Ghosts deals with important art objects which have been misplaced, damaged, stolen or have otherwise disappeared from public view. In the 1980s and 90s, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the Earl of Bath’s residence in England both lost some of their most prestigious works to thefts and accidents. In this volume, which combines her series on both museums, Sophie Calle embarks on a quest to resurrect the memory of these pieces. She explores their personal meaning to those museum employees and others who knew the works intimately, in a series of profiles on each individual.
Opening Events for Members and Patrons
October 23, 11 am-4:30 pm
Preview the exhibition the day before it opens to the public.
Exhibition Opening: Friends of Fenway Court Patrons
October 23, 6:30 pm
Exhibition Opening: Members
October 23, 7:30 pm
Sophie Calle: A Closer Look
February 6, 6:30 pm
Lectures: The Art of Memory
Memory is an essential part of being human, coloring our thoughts and feelings about time, place, and relationships. How memory is filtered through personal experience is one of the ideas explored in Sophie Calle: Last Seen. Join us for a series of lectures entitled The Art of Memory, as we explore the complexities of remembering (and forgetting).
Sophie Calle: Ghosts
October 24, 2013, 7 pm
Linda Nochlin: Finding, Losing; Remembering, Forgetting
November 14, 2013, 7 pm
Yve-Alain Bois: Sophie as Sherlock
December 12, 2013, 7 pm
Daniel Schacter: The Seven Sins of Memory
January 23, 2014, 7 pm
Richard Brettell: Manet's Chez Tortoni
March 27, 2014, 7 pm