The museum presents an exhibition on the legendary artist Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908-2001), known as Balthus. The exhibition is jointly organised with the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen / Basel, where it will be seen from September 2018 to January 2019.
Considered one of the great masters of 20th-century art, Balthus is undoubtedly one of the most unique painters of his time. His diverse, ambiguous work, which has been equally admired and reviled, pursued a direction that ran completely counter to the rise of the avant-gardes. Balthus himself named some of his influences derived from the tradition of art history, ranging from Piero della Francesca to Caravaggio, Poussin, Géricault and Courbet. A more detailed study of his work also reveals references to more recent movements such as Neue Sachlichkeit and his employment of devices derived from 19th-century children’s book illustrations. In his divergence from modernity, which could now be described as “post-modern”, Balthus evolved a personal and unique type of avant-garde art and a figurative style that defies classification. His particular pictorial language, with its use of solid forms and strongly defined outlines, combines the procedures of the Old Masters with certain aspects of Surrealism. The resulting images involve numerous contradictions, juxtaposing tranquillity with extreme tension; reverie and mystery with reality; and eroticism with innocence.
The exhibition, curated by Raphaël Bouvier with the support of Michiko Kono, and Juan Ángel López-Manzanares, brings together paintings from every period of Balthus’s career from the 1920s onwards. It casts light on aspects such as the different types of intellectual interaction between the dimensions of space and time that exist in his paintings; the relationship between figure and object; and the essence of his enigmatic oeuvre.
With Juan Ángel López-Manzanares, curator of the exhibition.