Balthus, The Road I, 1929, oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm, private collection © Balthus 2016

Vienna (LCG)Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908-2001), called "Balthus", is one of the great loner among the painters of the 20th century. The exhibition - the first comprehensive retrospective to Balthus in Austria - illuminated his work of dealing with the early Renaissance through the work within Surrealism and New Objectivity, between France, the German-speaking countries and Italy, up to the study of Oriental art. Balthus' painting has never questioned the objectivity, it adheres to a mysterious and eerie aura that evokes the fantasy worlds of our childhood - and sometimes not without even a certain cruelty.

Using subtle nuances evoked Balthus a solidified, subtle harmony, just as he himself formulated: "I always want something extraordinary to look at the ordinary; propose, not to determine to leave always something mysterious in my pictures. "


Balthus, "Pierre and Betty Leyris", 1932, oil on canvas, 72 x 52 cm © Balthus 2016 © Photo: MONDADORI PORTFOLIO / AKG Images

A diverse cultural and intellectual atmosphere characterizes his work: Rainer Maria Rilke is the first mentor of Balthus and his olderbrother Pierre Klossowski . By Rilke the brothers are inserted into the central European intellectual world; also promotes Rilke Balthus' interest in Far Eastern culture. At the same meeting at his mother's Paris Salon Baladine intellectuals and literary figures such as Julius Meier-Graefe , Klaus Mann and André Gide , Paul Valéry andPierre Jean Jouve . The romantic novel "Wuthering Heights" byEmily Brontë just employed him as the surreal world of "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll . Balthus cultivates friendships withAntonin Artaud , Alberto Giacometti and André Derain . Pierre Klossowski , Secretary André Gide , is translator of Friedrich Hölderlin and Walter Benjamin , his dispute with De Sade expressed in several writings. 


Balthus, "Cathy's toilet", 1933, oil on canvas, 165 x 150 cm © Balthus 2016 © Photo: MONDADORI PORTFOLIO / AKG Images

Balthus' interests are diverse and extend to the theater - to costumes and scenery for Artaud's "theater of cruelty" in 1935 astonished the rococo designs, created in 1950 for Mozart's "Così fan tutte" for the festival in Aix-en-Provence. 

Never Balthus has a grouping plays, be it alone can be seen in the distance to the Surrealists, with which it connects, although the desire for provocation, but their anchored in the subconscious and dream artistic activities he rejected that. Balthus is the "order" obligation, which places him in the vicinity of the painting of the New Objectivity. Its always structured imagery feeds not only from the Quattrocento, but also from the French classicism of Poussin or Ingres. When he retires in the early 1950s from the Parisian society by Chassy Burgundy-Morvan, this aspect of its design language reinforces. 


Balthus, Le roi des chats [The King of Cats], 1935, oil on canvas, 71 x 48 cm, private collection © Balthus,photo © Mondadori Portfolio / Bridgeman Images.

From 1961 to 1977 Balthus resides as director of the Académie de France at the Villa Medici in Rome, representative and organizational tasks restrict his activities as painter. So he tends to drawing, photography also is used as an artistic medium. The painter focuses in his late work on female nudes - the preferred theme of his life - and the landscape - this time in dealing with the Chinese mood landscape. The archaic atmosphere of his pictures and their quasi standing outside time protagonists remains Balthus always connected. He works slowly and had, like his brother Pierre Klossowski in 1957 said of him, "a breathing rhythm, which is (the) agriculture driving companies own and unrelated to the industrialism of our world in harmony."

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Scuderie del Quirinale and the French Academy, Villa Medici, in Rome. 

February 24, 2015 to June 19, 2016 - Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien


Balthus, Children Blanchard, 1937, oil on canvas, 125 x 130 cm, Musée National Picasso, Paris © Photo: MONDADORI PORTFOLIO / Leemage / Paris, Musée Picasso / Photo Josse © Balthus 2016


Balthus, "Still Life", 1937, oil on wood panel, 81 x 99 © Balthus 2016 © Photo: Allen Phillips


Balthus, Le Goûter, 1940. Oil on cardboard on wood panel, 72.9 x 92.8 cm Tate, London © Work: Balthus © Photo: Tate, London 2015


Balthus, La Patience, 1943, oil on canvas, 161,3 x 163,5 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Joseph Winterbotham Collection © Foto: MONDADORI PORTFOLIO/AKG Images © Balthus 2016


Balthus, The Cat in the Mediterranean, 1949, oil on canvas, 127 x 185 cm, private collection © Photo: MONDADORI PORTFOLIO / Bridgeman Images (Peter Willi) © 2016 Balthus


Balthus, "School Free Week", 1949, oil on canvas, 97.7 x 83.8 cm © Balthus 2016 © Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's


Balthus, "Study on Passage du Commerce Saint-André", 1950 © 2016 Balthus


Balthus, La phalène, 1959-1960, casein and tempera on canvas, 162 x 130 cm. Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre de création industrielle, Paris © Balthus © Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jacques Faujour


Balthus, Grand paysage à l'arbre (Cour de ferme à Chassy), 1960, oil on canvas, 130,5 x 162 cm, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Paris © Balthus 2016 © Foto: Photo RMN/Centre Pompidou, MNAMCCI RMN-GrandPalais © Balthus 2016


Balthus, "The painter and his model", 1980-1981, and casein tempera on canvas, 226.5 x 230.5 cm © Balthus 2016 © Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAMCCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Bertrand Prévost