Artwork of the month November

Robert Filliou, Optimistic Box Nos. 4 and 5, 1968/81

Robert Filliou

*1927 in Sauve, † 1987 in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France

Optimistic Box Nos. 4 and 5, 1968/81

Ceramic (piggy bank), paper

Unlimited edition

A pink piggy-bank with a sticker on either side. On one side we read: "one thing I learned since I was born"; this sentence is only complete when the sticker on the other side is read: "that I must die since I was born". This two-part text combines to form a brief memento mori which links the beginning and end of life both temporally and causally through the double meaning of the conjunction "since": "one thing I learned since I was born – that I must die since I was born."

But what is the link between the text recalling human transience and the symbolism of the piggy-bank? Does it relativize the significance of all things monetary? Or is it expressed by the piggy-bank itself, which – being ceramic – has be to "slaughtered" if the savings are to be retrieved?

The piggy-bank is the fourth and last element in a series of "Optimistic Boxes", originally planned to have fives. Nos. 1 to 3 are wooden boxes with a lid each containing an object and having a written label outside and inside. Each of them 'translates' a saying conceived by Filliou which, through being divided into two parts, undergoes a surprising change of meaning. The first three works were done in 1968/69, while this one here dates from 1981. In it, Filliou combines two ideas from the 1968 concept: No. 4, first planned as a small safe carrying the sentence: "it is great we are selfish – we can keep our money for ourselves", actually uses an inscription originally intended for a small wooden coffin.

All the objects in the series were produced in large numbers and – dispensing with the narrow structures of the art market – were distributed by the German Gallery VICE Versand. As unlimited multiples they ascribed to the ideal of "art for everyone".

<b>Robert Filliou, Optimistic Box Nos. 4 and 5, 1968/81</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.