previews

Balthus, Thérèse Dreaming, 1938, oil on canvas, 59 x 51".

New York

“Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
September 25 - January 12

Curated by Sabine Rewald

As always, Balthus finds himself in a strange position: His work, long regarded as retrograde from a modernist point of view, now also comes off as unredeemed post-pomo. Even so, many people—sophisticated people too, like me—really dig Balthus. The wrongness of him bubbles up as compensatory rightness; screw modernism, and screw political correctness, à la même heure. Emphasizing the French artist’s recurrent depictions of the jeune fille and the feline, “Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations” includes more than thirty paintings made between the mid-1930s and the ’50s, as well as a set of early drawings that was published by Rainer Maria Rilke as Mitsou: Histoire d’un chat in 1921. This show comes at the height of the cat meme—something that either inflames the passions of pet lovers the world over or makes you think that cats, though they may persist as living things, are o-v-e-r. Whichever camp you’re in, this show won’t disappoint!