Autoportrait (1940) by Balthus

Autoportrait - Balthus - 1940

Artwork Information

MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions44 x 32 cm (17 3/8 x 12 3/8 in)
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationPrivate collection
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About Autoportrait

“Autoportrait” (1940) by Balthus, whose full name is Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, is a compelling self-portrait that reflects the unique stylistic and thematic concerns of the artist. Balthus is known for his enigmatic and often provocative works, characterized by a meticulous technique that draws from the past while engaging with the complexities and ambiguities of the modern psyche.

In this self-portrait, Balthus depicts himself with an introspective, perhaps even brooding, demeanor. His work often conveys a sense of timeless isolation, merging classical compositional techniques with a modern sensibility that is both intriguing and unsettling. “Autoportrait” is no exception, as it showcases Balthus’s skill in rendering the human figure with a classical clarity, while also hinting at the psychological depth and personal introspection of the artist.

The painting can be seen as a reflection of Balthus’s position within the European art world at the time, a period marked by the turmoil and uncertainty of the early years of World War II. The self-portrait communicates a sense of introspection and perhaps isolation, themes that resonate with the broader existential concerns of the era.

Balthus’s work is often noted for its technical precision, influenced by the Renaissance masters, as well as a certain dreamlike quality that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. In “Autoportrait,” this blend of influences and themes invites viewers to engage with the work on multiple levels, considering both the artist’s mastery of form and the deeper, more elusive meanings that lie beneath the surface.

Overall, “Autoportrait” (1940) is a significant work in Balthus’s oeuvre, offering insight into the artist’s self-perception and his broader artistic and philosophical concerns. Through this self-portrait, Balthus not only presents an image of himself but also invites reflection on the nature of art, identity, and the human condition.

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