John Goodrich reviews the exhibition Balthus: Cats and Girls - Paintings and Provocations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on view through January 12, 2014.
Goodrich writes: "As the subtitle suggests, the exhibition concentrates on Balthus’ images of nubile girls and eerily knowing cats. Though alternately entertaining and unsettling, they represent only one aspect of his work. For me, the real revelations of this show lie elsewhere. Although always an admirer, I was surprised by how complete and complex and experimental a painter Balthus proves to be, even within the relatively narrow focus of this exhibition. Even great painters tend to marshal and guard their talents—Matisse’s tremendous instinct for color sometimes shelters his less rigorous drawing; Picasso, the genius draftsman, was usually shrewd enough to stick to a simple palette. To a remarkable degree, Balthus shows himself a prodigy of both drawing and color, a diverse master who lets first one, then the other, take the lead."