The visions of these three great artists of the 20th century: André Derain (1880-1954), Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski) (1908-2001) and Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), never before contrasted, coincide in what must be demanded of a work of art. Far beyond the mutual admiration and sincere affection that bonded them throughout their lives, their profound agreement on aesthetic questions is the common thread running through this exhibition.
With hindsight we can see that Derain, Balthus and Giacometti followed similar guidelines in their work, particularly in terms of their common outlook on the past of art.
The three share a powerful yearning for modernity, yet are passionately interested in painting’s history and the art of distant civilizations. They are fascinated by “the dark forces of matter” (Derain) and, in general, pay close attention to the “wonderful, unknown” reality before their eyes (Giacometti).
In 1920, when he returned from the front, Derain was an extremely successful artist. After being one of the most important among the Fauvists, that movement which had created art based on pure, bright colours at the turn of the century, his look turned to tradition and the secrets of painting, focussing his attention on the realist style which is known as the “Byzantine Style”.
In the early 1930’s Alberto Giacometti and Balthus, two artists from a younger generation, were fascinated by this “different” Derain, radically new but respecting art from the past. A good friendship grew between the three during their visits to studios and conversations, which was consolidated at successive meetings and projects. Through Derain’s painting and sculpture arose a true friendship between the three, based on reciprocal admiration which Balthus and Giacometti talked about throughout their lives, since Derain was the first to die, and the oldest and reference point in this relationship.
The exhibition, with around 240 exhibits, has generous support from numerous private collections and international institutions, with special attention being brought to: Fondation Giacometti, Paris; Musées d’Orsay and de l’Orangerie, Paris; Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Minneapolis Institute of Art; The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, Nueva York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Musée Picasso, Antibes; Musée National Picasso, Paris; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Tate, London; Fondation Beyeler, Basilea and Kunsthaus, Zurich.
This exhibition, conceived by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris Musées, was organised with Fundación MAPFRE. Curated by Jacqueline Munck, Chief Curator at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Fundación MAPFRE Paseo de Recoletos 23, 28004 Madrid | Spain
André Derain Isabel Lambert, 1935-1939, Oil on canvas, 75,6 × 74 cm
© André Derain, VEGAP, Madrid, 2018
Photo: © North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh (North Carolina).