Balthus

In 2019 the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is presenting (from 19th February to 26th May) a retrospective exhibition of the legendary artist Balthasar Klossowski of Rola (1908-2001), known as Balthus, organised jointly with the Beyeler Fondation Riehen / Basel, where it is presented from September 2018 to January 2019.

Considered one of the greatest masters of 20th century art, Balthus is undoubtedly one of the most unique painters of his time. His work, diverse and ambiguous and as admired as it was rejected, followed a path virtually contrary to the development of the avant-garde. The artist himself explicitly points out some of his influences on the historical-artistic tradition, from Piero della Francesca to Caravaggio, Poussin, Géricault or Courbet. In a more detailed analysis, references to more modern movements, such as the Neue Sachlichkeit, as well as to the resources of popular illustrations of the 19th century children’s books are also observed. In his detachment from modernity, which could be described as “postmodern”, Balthus developed a personal and unique form of avant-garde art, a figurative style far removed from any label. His personal pictorial language, of forceful forms and very delimited contours, combines the procedures of the old masters with certain aspects of surrealism and his images embody a great quantity of contradictions, mixing tranquility with extreme tension, dream and mystery with reality or eroticism with innocence.

The exhibition, curated by Raphaël Bouvier, with the support of Michiko Kono, and Juan Ángel López-Manzanares, brings together key paintings from all stages of his career since the 1920s, shedding light on the various forms of intellectual interaction in his paintings between the dimensions of space and time, the relationship between figure and object, as well as on the essence of his enigmatic work.

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