Balthus was a reclusive painter of charged and disquieting narrative scenes. Skirting avant-garde movements such as Surrealism, he appropriated the techniques of such antecedents as Piero della Francesca and Gustave Courbet to depict the physical and psychic struggles of adolescence. Casting viewers as voyeurs of brooding pubescent female subjects, he scandalised audiences with his first gallery exhibition, at Galerie Pierre, Paris, in 1934. In the sixty years that followed, Balthus cultivated a self-taught classicism—evident in the subject matter and technique of his interior portraits, street scenes, and landscapes—that ultimately served as a framework for more enigmatic and subversive artistic investigations.Read More
Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola) was born in 1908 in Paris, and died in 2001 in Rossinière, Switzerland. His first major museum exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1956. Other important exhibitions include Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris (1966); A Retrospective Exhibition, Tate, London (1968); 39th Biennale di Venezia, Venice (1980); Balthus in Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1980); Centre Pompidou, Paris (1983–1984, traveled to Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York); Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art (1984); Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland (1993); Hong Kong Museum of Art (1995); Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2001); Time Suspended: Paintings and Drawings 1932–1960, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2007); 100th Anniversary, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, Switzerland (2008); Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (2014, traveled to Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art); Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013–14); and Scuderie del Quirinale and Villa Medici, Rome (2015).
Text courtesy Gagosian.
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