Pierre Klossowski/Hans Bellmer

Whitechapel Gallery

While presented as separate exhibitions, these timely surveys of two of the most interesting artists in the orbit of Surrealism (though Pierre Klossowski, unlike Hans Bellmer, was never an official member of the group) complemented each other perfectly. Although the work of both artists is unmistakably specific to the century into which they were born and (differing in this regard from that of Klossowski’s brother, Balthus) absolutely without nostalgia for the art of the old masters, Bellmer and Klossowski were unconcerned with any notion of pictorial modernism.

This is not so much because of their work’s representational basis as because of its shared disregard for anything like aesthetic autonomy: In both cases, art was unabashedly the by-product, even the illustration, of a personal obsession. For this reason, Bellmer and Klossowski, despite all their intellectual sophistication, remained

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