b. 1953, France

Sophie Calle Artworks

An orchestrator of situations and 'private games', Sophie Calle's artworks unpack the dichotomies of personal and public, reality and fiction, and art and life in her ongoing unfolding and revisiting of stories.

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In particular, she is recognised for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives.

Suite Vénitienne (Venetian Suite)

For Suite Vénitienne (Venetian Suite) (1980—1994), Calle followed a man she encountered briefly in Paris, referred to as Henri B. Documenting her journey in black-and-white photographs, maps, and texts, Calle shadows Henri B. all the way to Venice, and back to Paris. Later iterations of the work saw the artist re-present the journey in a confessional sound installation and a text borrowing the physical and narrative format of a detective casebook.

The Address Book

The elaboration of chance events extends to The Address Book (1983), which began when Calle found an address book on the street, belonging to a man named Pierre. Treating her finding as a quest to get to know Pierre through the contacts listed in his address book, Calle documented this process in interviews, personal commentary, and photographs, and published a series of articles in the newspaper Libération.

The events and interactions of Calle's early practice are characteristic of her oeuvre as a whole, with surveillance, voyeurism, and narrative used as compelling and sometimes controversial devices through which to explore intimacy and human experience. Calle's practice has also been seen to align with the Oulipo French literary movement of the 1960s, in which constraints are sought to generate new structures and methods of writing.

In a conversation with Catherine Shaw for Ocula Magazine, Calle states: 'I am an artist trying to provocate through different situations, to use them as a tool in order to make a work of art. Sometimes it is through using life and text or images. I have a tendency to work with quite arbitrary situations.'

Take Care of Yourself

Calle's storytelling has oftentimes examined personal events in the artist's own life. When Calle represented France in the 2007 Venice Biennale, she presented Take Care of Yourself (2007), where she asked over a hundred women to analyse a break up email to Calle from her former partner, with the work's title taken from the email's closing line. The installation itself reveals the various interpretations of the email—interpretive dance, legal annotations, performative responses, musical translations, and spelling and grammar corrections, amongst others.

Rachel, Monique

In her project Rachel, Monique, which was published as a book in 2017, Calle processes the death of her mother through diary excerpts, narrrative storytelling, and photographs. These somewhat obsessive, performative exercises in processing intimate loss and grief operate as a cathartic outlet for the artist, while establishing an affinity with her audience through the sharing of universal experiences.

Later Works

Calle is known to appropriate distinct formats such as the documentary, forensic report, or genre novel, and chooses her mediums based on what she views as the most effective way to communicate the outcomes of an event she has facilitated. Voir la mer (2011) loosely borrows from the documentary portrait convention, comprising a series of video portraits which capture the reactions of residents of Istanbul as they see the ocean for the first time.

Though her practice can be seen to have a sociological or anthropological dimension, Calle states her work is not produced for sociological reasons, but for artistic reasons. For Voir la mer, Calle begins with shots of the residents' backs, leaving their initial reactions private before they face the camera. In this sense, Calle complicates the boundaries of chance and control, authorship and integrity, while nevertheless revealing poignant moments of her subjects' experience.

Browse Artworks
La Coupole by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork sculpture, photography, mixed media
Sophie Calle La Coupole, 2018 Pigment print, embroidered woolen cloth, wooden box
58.4 x 72.7 x 7 cm
Fraenkel Gallery Contact Gallery
Mama by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle Mama, 2012 Pigment print in found frame
62.2 x 54 cm (incl frame)
Fraenkel Gallery Contact Gallery
David by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork sculpture, photography, mixed media
Sophie Calle David, 2018 Pigment print, embroidered woolen cloth, wooden box
42.9 x 57.8 x 6.7 cm
Fraenkel Gallery Contact Gallery
Mother & Father (The Graves #15) by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle Mother & Father (The Graves #15), 1991 Two gelatin silver prints
58.4 x 38.1 cm
Fraenkel Gallery Contact Gallery
Autobiographies (Concession) by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork sculpture
Sophie Calle Autobiographies (Concession), 2018 Pigment print mounted on aluminium, text panel. Framed text 50.5 x 50.5 cm. Framed image 76 x 51 cm
Fraenkel Gallery Contact Gallery
C ki (Who r u) by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork sculpture
Sophie Calle C ki (Who r u), 2017 Pigment print mounted on aluminium, in wooden box
36.2 x 23.5 x 9.5 cm
Fraenkel Gallery Contact Gallery
Serie Noire (The Big Sleep) by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork mixed media
Sophie Calle Serie Noire (The Big Sleep), 2020 Found book and artist's text in wooden box
27.9 x 21.9 x 7 cm
Fraenkel Gallery Contact Gallery
Mother-Father by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print, mixed media
Sophie Calle Mother-Father, 2018 Pigment print, embroidered woollen cloth, wooden box
42.8 x 57.8 x 7.3 cm
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Shrouds by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print, mixed media
Sophie Calle Shrouds, 2018 Pigment print, embroidered woollen cloth, framing
67 x 94.3 cm
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Attendez moi (FR) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle Attendez moi (FR) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
The Breasts (EN) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle The Breasts (EN) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Room with a view (EN) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle Room with a view (EN) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Des journees entieres sous le signe du B, du C, du W (FR) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle Des journees entieres sous le signe du B, du C, du W (FR) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Des journees entieres sous le signe du B, du C, du W (EN) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle Des journees entieres sous le signe du B, du C, du W (EN) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
The plastic surgery (EN) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle The plastic surgery (EN) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Wait for me (EN) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle Wait for me (EN) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Chambre avec vue (FR) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle Chambre avec vue (FR) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Les seins miraculeux (FR) * by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork print
Sophie Calle Les seins miraculeux (FR) *, 2013 Digital print on fine art 100% cotton paper
70 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
The ghost of Souris by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle The ghost of Souris, 2017 Digital photograph, text, wooden framing
76 x 50 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
A l'espère / Télésiège by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle A l'espère / Télésiège, 2017 Digital photograph, aluminium, frame
43 x 55 cm (incl frame)
Perrotin Contact Gallery
A l'espère / Quai de la gare by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle A l'espère / Quai de la gare, 2017 Digital photograph, aluminium, frame
43 x 55 cm (incl frame)
Perrotin Contact Gallery
A l'espère / Terrain de pétanque au Cailar by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle A l'espère / Terrain de pétanque au Cailar, 2017 Digital photograph, aluminium, frame
43 x 55 cm (incl frame)
Perrotin Contact Gallery
A l'espère / Sommet by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle A l'espère / Sommet, 2017 Digital photograph, aluminium, frame
43 x 55 cm (incl frame)
Perrotin Contact Gallery
A l'espère / Hopital Montsouris by Sophie Calle contemporary artwork photography
Sophie Calle A l'espère / Hopital Montsouris, 2017 Digital photograph, aluminium, frame
43 x 55 cm (incl frame)
Perrotin Contact Gallery
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