At the Scuderie del Quirinale, with a complete retrospective built around best-known masterpieces; and at the Villa Medici with an exhibition that, through the works realized during his roman stay, highlights in-depth analysis of his working method, his creative process, his use of models, his techniques, his recourse to photography.
The exhibition, curated by Cécile Dubray, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art Centre Pompidou, brings together more than two hundred works spanning the entire career of Balthus.
The Scuderie del Quirinale's exhibition is divided into sections ordered by chronological order:
Balthus defined his first important work-The Street of 1933- as "the manifesto of a plastic attitude". The picture is for the first time exhibited together with the previous 1929 version. The painting, a familiar street scene set in the heart of the Latin quarter of Paris in which the main figures are children, is a synthesis of the principal features of Balthus's future works:subtly erotic scenes of children's games with geometric construction underlying the composition. Compared with previous canvases-small Paris scenes of soft naturalism-this large composition is in effect a breack, a realization of the principles of layout and stylization observed in the painting of the Italian Primitives, essenntially Piero della Francesca, whose frescoes Balthus copied in 1926 in Arezzo.
|The Street 1933 - The street 1929|
|Young woman in a park 1935|
Balthus always evoked his happy childhood and confessed to a fascination with children and their games, expressed right from his first canvases painted at the age of seventeen in the gardens of the Luxembourg. Most of his works feature young models , scarcely adolescent, who embody the ambiguous moment between childhood and adulthood, between innocent abandonment and sensual pose.
|Up:The Painter's grandchild - Solitaire - Portrait of Laurence B.|
Down:The Diabolo player - The Blanchard children - Pierre and Betty Leyris
The painting Cathy's Toilette and the original drawings of 1933 illustrating the novel "Wuthering Heights" reveal how much his fascination for the threatening and romantic universe of Emily Brontë marked the painting and personality of Balthus, who developed a deep attachment to the wild condition of infancy, a relationship of fusion with austere and bitter nature and an archaic and grandiose vision of landed gentry.
|drawings of 1933 illustrating the novel "Wuthering Heights"|
The world of the parson and mathematician Lewis Carroll inspired the most "bizarre" part of Balthus's work. Alice in the Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass provided a fundamental source for his poetic imagination:the role of cats, animals, the almost fetishistic attention to all objects, a strange world, the oneirism that surrounds the young girl.
|Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Dress - King of the Cats|
|The Cat of la Méditerranée|
In many of his paintings Balthus suggests the erotic dimension by depicting young girls washing abandoned in contemplation or intent on playing with a cat, a sort of double of the painter who generally occupies the position of observer. The monumental composition of The Room (1952-1954) concludes and completes the equivocal scenes of interiors begun in 1944 with The Golden Days. It is precisely the scopic impulse that presides over Balthus's scenes and their erotic tonality that is celebrated by many critics and poets.
|Up: The Room (1947.1948) - Young Girl with the Cat(1945)|
Down: The Room (1952.1954) - The Week with four Thursday (1949)
The 1932 meeting with Artaud seemingly reinforced the "cruel" aesthetic in young Balthus, a stinging realism suited to the expression of a non-lenient vision of the world , which marked in both of them the real distance from the fantastical and oneiric aesthetic of the surrealists.
Artaud would also engage the painter for the sets and costumes of his work The Cenci, staged in 1935, the first in a series of Balthus 's collaborations with the theatre which reinforced their shared interest in the tableau vivant, a notion in which fetish, contemplation and perversion were mixed and which Klossowski employed to indicate what many would then perceive as a form of silence and petrifying in the paintings of Balthus.
|Ten studies for the costumes for of The Cenci (1935)|
|Leaning Nude (1939)|
|Portrait of Pierre Leyris (1932-33)|
Pierre Klossowski noted in his brother's painting the reminiscences of the bourgeois atmosphere of the family house with all everyday accessories. The figures painted by Balthus in the fifties have nonetheless a monumental presence which harks back to a form of voluntary archaism.
|up: Fréderiqué with red Sweater (1955) - Girl in white blouse (1955)|
down: Girl Drowsing (1955) - The Dream II (1956-57)