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 scandalized 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.
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 (1983–84, 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).
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Paris Photo 2017
November 9–12, 2017, booth B16
Grand Palais, Paris
Patti Smith, an internationally acclaimed musician, writer, and visual artist, has chosen a selection of her own photographs to be shown alongside works by other artists including Richard Avedon, Balthus, Gregory Crewdson, Peter Lindbergh, Vera Lutter, Sally Mann, Taryn Simon, Deborah Turbeville, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol. Smith began taking photographs in 1978, eventually developing an emotionally unfiltered archive of solitary moments, to which she is continually adding. Her lifelong fascination with eulogy and remembrance is reflected in her selection of works by other artists. “Curated by Patti Smith” provides a glimpse of Smith and her fellow travelers, and is a coming-together of people, places, and relics.
Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe’s Slippers, NYC, 2002 © Patti Smith
Through January 1, 2019
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel
The Fondation Beyeler brings together more than fifty important paintings by Balthus from every phase of his oeuvre. The starting point of the show is his monumental painting Passage du Commerce-Saint-André (1952–54), which epitomizes the artist’s intensive engagement with the dimensions of space and time in the image, and with their relationship to figure and object.
Balthus, The Card Game, 1948–50, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid © Balthus
Derain, Balthus, Giacometti
February 1–May 6, 2018
Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid
The exhibition, with more than one hundred works, traces the artistic friendship of these three major artists, who met in 1933 and whose lives and works would intersect over the ensuing decades. Beyond sharing personal affinities, the three artists played with rules of representation, style, and technique. This exhibition has traveled from the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Alberto Giacometti, Aïka, 1959, Fondation Beyeler © Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris + ADAGP, Paris) 2017
Derain, Balthus, Giacometti
Une amitié artistique
June 2–October 29, 2017
Musée d’Art moderne
The exhibition, with nearly two hundred works, traces the artistic friendship of these three major artists, who met in 1933 and whose lives and works would intersect over the ensuing decades. Beyond their personal affinities, the three artists played with rules of representation, style, and technique.
Balthus, The Street, 1933, Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
The Beginning of Everything
Drawings from the Janie C. Lee, Louisa Stude Sarofim, and David Whitney Collections
February 24–June 18, 2017
The Menil Collection, Houston
In anticipation of the October 2017 opening of the Menil Drawing Institute, the museum is exhibiting a selection of drawings spanning the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century. The show highlights promised gifts from the collections of Janie C. Lee and Louisa Stude Sarofim, as well as works from David Whitney’s 2005 bequest, which include those by Balthus, Georg Baselitz, Helen Frankenthaler, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, Brice Marden, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Rachel Whiteread.
Brice Marden, Untitled, 1988–91 © Brice Marden/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York