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Balthus: Girls and Cats (PHOTOS)

Balthus, the early 20th-century modernist painter, was perhaps the first to discover a central secret of our time: put a cat and a girl in everything. See highlights of his show at the Met.

Balthus

Balthus

He may have been born at the dawn of the last century, but Balthasar Klossowski knew a secret of our time: put a cat in everything. On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through January 12, 2014, Balthus: Cats and Girls -- Paintings and Provocations, highlights the two most prominent themes in the French Artist's work. Born in Paris in 1908 Klossowski -- recognized today by his nickname Balthus -- began sketching cats when he was just 11 years old, drawing a series of images of a stray cat he named Mitsou that was later turned into a book. Continuing his fascination with cats, Balthus continued to utilize the animal as a prominent theme within his work. Shown typically amongst humans -- young girls in particular -- the felines have been considered "possible stand-ins for the artist himself." In his drawings and paintings, according to the museum, "Balthus mingles intuition into his young sitters’ psyches with an erotic undercurrent and forbidding austerity, making them some of the most powerful depictions of childhood and adolescence committed to canvas." The exhibit features some of Balthus's more recognized work, including the artist's self-portrait entitled The King of Cats, and a series of paintings featuring Thérèse Blanchard, a young neighbor of his in Paris, all done in the same warm color palette of browns, reds, and grays. Touching on the ideas of daydreaming and escapism, the exhibit encompasses the progression of Balthus's work until his death in 2001. Call him the proto-Buzzfeed. 

Balthus

Thérèse Dreaming, 1938

Balthus

The Game of Patience, 1954

Balthus

Nude with Cat, 1949

Balthus

The King of Cats, 1935

Balthus

Thérèse, 1938

Balthus

Thérèse on a Bench Seat, 1939

Balthus

Girl at a Window, 1955

Balthus

The Golden Days, 1944-1946

Balthus

The Salon I, 1941-1943