Critics’ Picks

Pierre Klossowski, Roberte au Passage Choiseul (Robert at Choiseul Pass), 1979, colored pencil on paper, 90 x 59".


Pierre Klossowski

Schinkel Pavillon
Oberwallstrasse 1
March 18 - May 14

Concerning his outstanding drawings created as book illustrations, Pierre Klossowski once said that they were all portraits. Those of the character Roberte, the focus in this exhibition, hark back to one of the central female personages of his three-volume novel trilogy, The Laws of Hospitality (1954–65), the second of which provides the show’s title. In that volume Roberte, ce Soir (Robert, Tonight), Roberte, at the wish of her husband, Octave, has to offer her body to his guests, yielding a highly ambivalent constellation of scenes of emancipated loyalty and abuse, voyeurism, and downright clichéd perversion, present in La générosité de Roberte (Robert’s Generosity) or Roberte au Passage Choiseul (Robert at Choiseul Pass), both 1979. Klossowski’s wife, Denise, whose middle name was Roberte, was potentially the model for these figurative works, including the mock-ups for three sculptures from the 1990s also exhibited here.

Writer Jean-Noël Vuarnet has made a case that the artist’s scenic staging of naked bodies is more closely related to that of photography and cinema rather than classical art history. Klossowski’s own theater of obsession is here fittingly juxtaposed with a felicitous selection of avant-garde films, suggesting a new contextualization for the drawings. The show’s accompanying film program—curated by Marc Glöde—includes the experimental classics Takahiko Iimura’s Ai (Love) (1962) and Abigail Child’s Mayhem (1987), feminist approaches such as Carolee Schneemann’s Fuses (1964–67) and Yoko Ono’s Freedom (1970), as well as Richard Kern’s “Cinema of Transgression” short Submit to Me (1986), Harun Farocki’s analysis of the production of a Playboy centerfold, Ein Bild (An Image, 1983), and Shu Lea Cheang’s portrait of lesbian sexuality, Sex Fish (1993).

Translated from German by Diana Reese.