Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Balthus at the Met

Today I went up to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Balthus exhibit, Cats and Girls: Paintings and Provocations.

This somber, intriguing collection of work captures girls in moments free of selfconsciousness. Reading, or sleeping, or looking in the mirror or out the window, these figures are quietly alone (except for the cats). There are a few paintings where the underpants of prepubescent girls can be seen, and because of this there is a warning at the beginning of the exhibition stating that some viewers might find the content disturbing. I didn't think these were exceptionally prurient but an uncomfortable eroticism does surround the images. And I think this discomfort adds to the richness of Balthus' work.

I enjoyed all the paintings, but the two that I remember most are, one of a reclining nude with a knife on the ground, and another, I think called "Patience" where a girl is standing over a table laid out with playing cards while a cat plays with a toy underneath. The girl is wearing pale green, and there is a softness to the palette that stood out for me.

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