The Life and Death of Works of Art


A collection of stories and theoretical texts focused on the modalities of existence of artworks, starting with a collection of items that used to be works of art but no longer are. This book also explores the various material and perceptible continuities linked to the definition of “a work of art.”

More generally it raises a number of issues on the ontology of the work of art: how does a work of art inscribe itself in the material continuity of the object that contains it and surpasses it? How does the lifespan of a work of art within its object then surpass a human being's lifespan? Which reasons and which practices govern the conservation and preservation of an artifact? 

The Life and Death of Works of Art starts where the artworks cease to be, to find interest in what it becomes. The artist and restorer's mutually overlapping figures, technological chimeras, biological entities substituted inside the work of art for preservation purposes, museum-targeted reconstitutions, hyper restoration, physically or chemically reconfigured artworks—these are all examples making up the landscape of this book.

The Life and Death of Works of Art acts as an extension of the 2014 eponymous exhibition at Cneai (Chatou, France) and the panel discussion organized at Treize (Paris, France) in November of the same year. 

Edited by Christophe Lemaitre, with texts by Christophe Lemaitre, Petra Lange-Berndt, Gregory Buchert, Le Bureau/, Paul-Hervé Parsy, Nathalie Leleu and Amelia Groom. Artwork by Alexis Guillier.

Designed by Spassky Fischer

Published by Tombolo Presses

Bilingual edition, in English and French

Softcover, 224 pages, duotone illustrations, 4.8 × 7.8 inches