Daniel Buren is famous for his use of a repeated 8.7 cm wide stripe that defines, confounds and explores issues of continuity, pattern, recognition and space. The artist has created a lasting body of work that is at once, one continual repetition and yet also a forever changing exploration of comprehension, form and surprise. He began painting in the early 1960s but by 1965, had stopped traditional painting so as to use the the striped awning canvas common in France. Overall, Buren’s works integrate visual surface and architectural space by focusing on the gesture of placement as a way of highlighting the process of ‘making’ rather than a visual/pictorial representation of anything else.
A few key moments in his career:
• Buren started by setting up hundreds of striped posters, so-called “affichages sauvages”, around Paris and later in more than 100 Metro stations, drawing public attention through these unauthorized acts.
• He had his first important solo exhibition at the Galleria Apollinaire in Milan in 1968, where he blocked the only entrance to the gallery, a glass door, with a striped support.
• A year later, without being invited, Buren wished to take part in Harald Szeemann’s exhibition, “When Attitudes Become Form,” taking place in Bern in 1969. Two of the contributing artists offered him space in the show, but he instead covered billboards in Bern with his stripes.
• In June 1970, he put stripes on the front and back of Los Angeles bus benches without permission.
• For his first New York City solo show in 1973, Buren hung a set of nineteen black and white striped squares of canvas on a cable that ran from one end of the John Weber Gallery to the other, out the window to a building on the other side of West Broadway. Nine pieces were inside the gallery and nine outside. A middle piece, which connected the outside and the inside parts of the installation, was placed halfway out the opening where the window frame had been removed for the duration of the exhibition.
• In 1977 Buren cut up one of his artworks from 1969 and made a new work, designating that the sections should hang in the corners of a wall, whether that wall was empty, had doors or windows, or even had other artworks already hanging on it.
• In 1986, when François Mitterrand was president of France, Buren attained leading artist status after he created the 3,000-square-meter sculpture “Les Deux Plateaux” (1985–86) (more commonly referred to as the “Colonnes de Buren” (“Buren’s Columns”), a work in situ for the Cour d’honneur at the Palais Royal in Paris.
• Also in 1986, he represented France at the Venice Biennale and won the Golden Lion Award for best pavilion.
Over his career, Buren has had major solo exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, in 1989, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 2002, Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2005, Modern Art Oxford in 2006, and at Kunsthalle Baden-Baden in 2011, among many others. For the 52nd Venice Biennale, Buren created a new site-specific work for the Giardini of the Italian Pavilion, and was also curator of Sophie Calle’s contribution to the French Pavilion. He has created over 80 permanent public installations on four continents.