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Balthasar Klossowski de Rola


The first Balthus retrospective in Austria

Balthus, The Street I, 1929, oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm, Private Collection © Balthus 2016.

For the first time in Austria the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien is presenting a retrospective of the work of Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908–2001), called “Balthus”, one of the great lone wolves among the painter personalities of the twentieth century. The exhibition casts light on Balthus’s work, starting with his early inspiration from the Quattrocento, then going on to the works revolving around Surrealism and neue Sachlichkeit (“New Objectivity”) encompassing France, the German-speaking regions and Italy, and finally to his preoccupation with East Asian art. Balthus, who never put representational art to question, remained aloof from all avant-garde developments and cultivated his own style of “different Modernism”.

His oeuvre is moulded by the intellectual and polyglot environment in which he grew up: Rainer Maria Rilke was his mentor, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë inspired him as much as the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. He befriended Antonin Artaud and Alberto Giacometti – in later years also David Bowie and Bono. His brother Pierre Klossowski, André Gide’s secretary, is the translator of Friedrich Hölderlin and Walter Benjamin, his preoccupation with de Sade is reflected in several of his writings. To appreciate Balthus’s consistently structured painting, which shows no expressionist elements whatever, we must discover the mysterious, archaic and also uncanny aura of his pictures, explore worlds that summon up the fantasies and imagination of our childhood – also without sparing ourselves a certain cruelty.

The exhibition traces this assessment of Balthus as an artist beyond the pale of normality: Balthus, who by means of subtle nuances sets up a frozen, enigmatic harmony, in his own words: “I have always felt the need to find the extraordinary in the ordinary; to suggest, not to determine, always to leave something enigmatic in my pictures.” The support of the artist’s family and loans from international collections – Centre Pompidou, musée national d’Art moderne , Paris, The Art Institute of Chicago, Tate London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – underscores the significance of this project.

INFORMATION: • Phone: +43 1 537 33 26
• Website: www.kunstforumwien.at
• Fax: +43 1 537 33 27
• Mail : office@kunstforumwien.at

• Friday 10AM-9PM
ADMISSION PRICE: • Adults: €11
• Senior citizens: €8.50
• 17-27 years: €6
• 6-16 years: €4
• Children (age 5 and under), unemployed: admission free
CATALOGUE: Balthus (German edition), Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg 2016, 248 pages, €32
CONTACTS: • Dr. Wolfgang Lamprecht
Phone: +43 664 8563002
• Alexander Khaelss-Khaelssberg
Phone: +43 664 8563001