A series of works based on the 1990 Gardner Museum heist, in which thirteen works of art were stolen. The result was a meditation on absence and memory, a reflection on the emotional power that works of art have upon their viewers.
Sophie Calle is well known for her work with photography and personal narrative, often placing herself in challenging emotional and psychological situations, and enlisting the participation of others. In 1991, Calle created Last Seen…, a series of works based on the 1990 Gardner Museum heist, in which thirteen works of art were stolen. Calle interviewed curators, guards, and other staff members, collecting their thoughts and memories of the missing works. The result was a meditation on absence and memory, a reflection on the emotional power that works of art have upon their viewers.
In 2012, Calle decided to revisit the project. She had learned that in 1995 the Museum had restored four of the empty frames left behind during the theft and reinstalled them on the walls of the Dutch Room. Excited and intrigued by this visually organized framing of absence on the part of a museum, Calle made a new body of work and called it What Do You See?. The outcome is a portrait of absence that might, or might not, take shape through collective memories.
Last Seen brings together both series of works—for the first time—at the Gardner Museum.
Accompanying lectures and programs
The Art of Memory
Calderwood Hall; select Thursdays at 7pm
"Finding, Losing; Remembering, Forgetting"
Linda Nochlin, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art, emerita, NYU
"Sophie as Sherlock"
Yve-Alain Bois, Art History Professor, Institute for Advanced Study
January 23, 2014
"The Seven Sins of Memory"
Daniel Schacter, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Harvard University
March 27, 2014
"Manet's Chez Tortoni: a Paris Restaurant in a Venetian Palazzo in Boston"
Richard Brettell, Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair and Co-Director, CISM, The University of Texas at Dallas
Sophie Calle: A Closer Look
Thursday, February 6, 2014, 6:30–8:30pm
Delve more deeply into Last Seen with an intimate discussion in the galleries. Space is limited.
Karen Haas, Lane Curator of Photographs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Pieranna Cavalchini, Tom and Lisa Blumenthal Curator of Contemporary Art
Exhibition organized by
Pieranna Cavalchini, Tom and Lisa Blumenthal Curator of Contemporary Art, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway - Boston, MA
Hours: Wednesday–Monday 11am–5pm; Thursday 11am–9pm
Admission: Adults: $15;Seniors 65 and up: $12; College Students: $5 with current ID;
Free:Members; Visitors under 18; All named“Isabella”; U.S. military and families