Daniel Buren

artist from France

Daniel Buren (born 25 March 1938) is a French conceptual artist.

Daniel Buren, 2014



  • Art is the illusion of disorientation, the illusion of liberty, the illusion of presence, the illusion of the sacred, the illusion of Nature. ... Not the painting of Buren, Mosset, Parmentier or Toroni.... Art is a distraction, art is false. Painting begins with Buren, Mosset, Parmentier, Toroni.
Untitled by Daniel Buren
  • Vertically striped sheets of paper, the bands of which are 8.7 cms wide, alternate white and colored, are stuck over internal and external surfaces: walls, fences, display windows, etc.; and/or cloth/canvas support, vertical stripes, white and colored bands each 8.7 cms, the two ends covered with dull white paint.
    I record that this is my work for the last four years, without any evolution or way out. This is the past: it does not imply either that it will be the same for another ten or fifteen years or that it will change tomorrow.
    The perspective we are beginning to have, thanks to these past four years, allows a few considerations of the direct and indirect implications for the very conception of art. This apparent break (no research, or any formal evolution for four years) offers a platform that we shall situate at zero level, when the observations both internal (conceptual transformation as regards the action/praxis of a similar form) and external (work/production presented by others) are numerous and rendered all the easier as they are not invested in the various surrounding movements, but are rather derived from their absence.
    • "Beware!" ("Mise en garde!"), in Konzeption/Conception, translated by Charles Harrison and Peter Townsend (Leverkusen: Stadtischer Museum, 1969.
  • Every act is political and, whether one is conscious of it or not, the presentation of one's work is no exception. Any production, any work of art is social, has a political significance. We are obliged to pass over the sociological aspect of the proposition before us due to lack of space and consideration of priority among the questions to be analysed.
    • "Beware!" ("Mise en garde!"), in Konzeption/Conception, translated by Charles Harrison and Peter Townsend (Leverkusen: Stadtischer Museum, 1969.


  • The work of art... in seemingly by-passing all difficulties, attains full freedom, thus in fact nourishing the prevailing ideology. It functions as a security valve for the system, an image of freedom in the midst of general alienation and finally as a bourgeois concept supposedly beyond all criticism, natural, above and beyond all ideology.
    • Daniel Buren, "Critical Limits," (1970), in: Buren, Five Texts, trans. Laurent Sauerwein (New York: John Weber Gallery, 1973), p. 45
  • More and more, the subject of an exhibition tends not be the display of artworks, but the exhibition of the exhibition as a work of art. Here, the Documenta team, headed by Harald Szeemann, exhibits (artworks) and exposes itself (to critiques).
    • Daniel Buren (1972), cited in: Marina Abramović, ‎Jens Hoffmann (2004). The next Documenta should be curated by an artist.
  • Every place radically imbues (formally, architecturally, sociologically, politically) with its meaning the object (work creation) shown there. Art in general refuses to be implied a priori and so pretends to ignore or reject the draconian role imposed by the museum (the gallery), a role both cultural and architectural. To reveal this limit (this role), the object presented and its place of display must dialectically imply one another
    • Daniel Buren (1975), in: Studio International. Vol. 189-190, (1975), p. 124
  • When we say architecture, we include the social, political and économie context. Architecture of any sort is in fact the inévitable background, support and frame of any work.
    • Daniel Buren (1979), cited in: A. A. Bronson, ‎Peggy Gale, ‎Art Metropole (1983). Museums by artists. p. 73

Art is no longer justifiable or setting the record straight, 2000Edit

Georges Boudaille. "Interview with daniel buren: art is no longer justifiable or setting the record straight," in: Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. Alexander Alberro, ‎Blake Stimson. 2000. p. 66-74

  • I agree with Rosenberg’s text that says anything is art as soon as it is put in a museum. And that is why artists are such appalling things, since they are responsible for this state of affairs in art.
    • p. 66
Colonnes de Buren, 18 July 2005.
  • Duchamp realized that there was something false in art, but his limitation was that, rather than demystifying, he amplified it. By taking a manufactured object and placing it out of context, he quite simply symbolized art. His actions tended to “represent” and not “present” the object. Duchamp, like all artists, could not “present” anything at all without “re-presenting” it. And if he symbolized art in this way, it was because as soon as he exhibited a bottle rack, a shovel, or a urinal, he was really stating that anything was art as soon as you pointed at it. By extension, and this is very important, that means that a cow in a field becomes art in a painting, a tree by Courbet becomes art, and a woman by Rubens becomes art; now this cow, this tree, and this woman exist in another way. Duchamp dismantled this process supposedly to take away its sanctity, but he went about it in such a way that by being against art, he was in art. Let’s clarify an important point right away: Duchamp is not anti-art. He belongs to art. The art of extolling the consumer society.
    • p. 66
  • Putting a shovel in a gallery or museum signified “this shovel has become art.” And it actually was. The action itself is art, because the artist projects himself in choosing the shovel, and especially in placing it out of context. It is art in the sense that the imprint of a hand in a cave is art, the Mona Lisa is art, a happening is art, etc. It is a problem that touches on the ethics and function of the artist: he assumes the right to have this supra-human calling that allows him to say to others, “everything that I touch with my hand is transformed into art.” The artist imposes his anguish, his vision of the world, and himself on others. The artist emasculates the observer. Maybe he thinks that the latter deserves no better . . . The artist assumes the right to show you what you can see for yourself, what you could obviously see much more clearly without his intervention. I contest this right.
    • p. 66-67

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