Monday, December 19, 2016

Balthus the Painter (1908-2001) documentary [vhs]

Your Monday movie this week is about Balthus Klossowski de Rola. His work is most well known as controversial. Just looking at his work you may get the impression that he was some sort of dirty old man or even a pedophile. In the first seven minutes of the movie he talks about this very topic. Whether you believe what he says is up to you. 
I'm still on the fence, I don't know whether I believe he was some sort of pervert or not but what he says about the critics and art historians is exactly how I feel. They always seem to be reaching and over analysing paintings.  So this raises a question, if the viewer is the one who looks at a painting and sees something inappropriate is it the fault of the painter or the viewer? Is it the viewer's own subconscious mind that's putting these inappropriate thoughts in their head?  OR is it the fault of the painter for putting it out there?  When you put something out there that skates near a controversial issue does that make you an antagonizer, are you simply trying to poke the tiger?  Then you have Balthus saying that it's the adult mind who's looking at his paintings incorrectly. This statement I believe. Adults always find ways to pervert things and children simply look at things with innocent eyes. (As it should be).  
So if a painting was meant to represent one thing but the audience grabs other meaning from it, who's right? This one's tough. It's much like a tweet or a facebook post. Once you put it out there in the public the public will form their opinion and no matter how much back peddling and explaining you do, their mind is already made up. 


  1. This IS a tough one...especially in an age when marketers and other spin merchants play in the nooks and crannies of our psychology so deliberately. I think we've reached a cultural threshold, where people bring more content (read baggage) TO things than they take away from them. This whole "fake news" thing can only work because people are looking FOR evidence of something they already believe instead of simply accessing new information.
    Now Balthus is wrecked for me - I just thought he was a guy with an interesting muted palette and clean drawing style. It almost never pays to read art criticism. All the sadder because there ARE people out there making insightful commentary...babies and bath water.

    1. You bring up such a good point with the fake news.
      AS far as reading the commentary, we just need to make sure our BS radars are finely tuned and keep open minds.