Peter Halley, Barbara Bloom, Ashley Bickerton, Joan Wallace and Jeff Koons get together for a piece in the New York Times this week, dining at Katz’s and discussing the 80’s scene downtown. “SoHo had this hierarchy and the gallery structure, but when all these artists opened these fresh, young galleries, there was no hierarchy there,” Koons says of spaces in the Lower East Side. “It was really about showing exciting works. Things weren’t set up as business-oriented. I went through some of the SoHo galleries, but I was never completely accepted there. And as outsiders we finally had a place where we were embraced.”
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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.