Maurizio Cattelan is profiled in the New York Times this week, as a documentary on the artist hits theaters. “Underneath it all, Maurizio’s a good person,” says director Maura Axelrod of the artist’s mischievous personality. “He’s not careening through life trying to upset people. His overall approach is playful. Although maybe not the Stephanie Seymour piece. That might be the exception.”
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Balthus via Wikipedia
Balthasar Kłossowski de Rola, known as Balthus, was a prominent artist of the 20th century, most recognized for his paintings of young girls in voyeuristic or erotic contexts. His work is said to have influenced contemporary artists like John Currin.
Nude With Cat, Balthus,1949 via NationalgalleryofVictoria
His parents were part of the Paris cultural elite which led to his being influenced by such figures as poet Rainer Maria Rilke and Henri Matisse from an early age. In 1921, at the age of thirteen, Balthus published a book of drawings called “Mitsou”, with a preface by Rilke. It was a story of a boy and his cat – Balthus would remain obsessed with the animal for the rest of his life. In the 1930s, Balthus was a well-regarded painter belonging to a circle of influential artists, novelists, and intellectual figures – including Man Ray, Alberto Giacometti, Albert Camus, Joan Miro, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
The Mountain, Balthus, 1937 via Junkforcode
Balthus preferred to work with realistically rendered nude figures – he rejected the imaginary world, at a time when it was not fashionable to do so. He worked on paintings for immensely long periods of time, with great precision.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, he gained international fame, while also remaining an enigma. His work was displayed in the Pierre Matisse gallery, The Museum of Modern Art, and he was the first living artist to be shown in the Louvre, who had acquired his piece from Pablo Picasso’s collection. Picasso had been a fan of Balthus since his early work.
Balthus exhibition, 2001, via Donatawenders
Upon his death, many more fans would attend his funeral, including U2, the president of France, supermodel Elle McPherson, and others.