Gladstone Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of historic works by Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001), the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery in Brussels and his first gallery show in Belgium. A prolific late in life artist who was internationally acclaimed for his writings and translations on Sadeian erotic expression, Klossowski is a pivotal yet underrepresented figure in the history of 20th-century art, often overshadowed by his earlier literary work and his younger brother, Balthus. This exhibition brings together a selection of works from Klossowski’s most significant and transformative period of artmaking, and celebrates the important historical impact of his work both during and after his life.
Klossowski, who was raised by a painter and an art historian, grew up in a creative environment, leading to his future collaborations with writers and academics, including André Gide, Jean Paulhan and Rainer Maria Rilke. These early introductions to diverse forms of literary and artistic expression resulted in a complex portfolio of essays, books and drawings that explored themes such as modernity, sexuality and violence.
It was not until the 1950s when Klossowski began to publish and exhibit his inventive and erotically charged artworks, at first as illustrations for his risqué texts. He employed a signature style that combined techniques of Italian Mannerism with the cerebral and aesthetical sensibilities of Surrealism, demonstrating a well-rounded and astute knowledge of art history. Primarily working with pencil and charcoal, the laborious drawings he produced reference a variety of subjects, including Greek mythology, Sadean decadence, medieval fantasy and sexualized scenarios involving a recurring female figure, Roberte. These imagined scenes depict a perplexing and intriguing array of mature, familiar and fantastical situations involving cartoonish human figures set in fictitious landscapes that uniquely relate back to the dystopic realities he creates.
Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) was born in Paris and lived between France, Germany and Switzerland before his death. His work has been the subject of major survey exhibitions at Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2017); Circulo de Bellas Artes de Madrid, Madrid (2007); Centre Pompidou – Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (2007); Museum Ludwig, Köln(2006); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2006); Sala Parpallo, Valencia (1991); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (1991); and Kunsthalle, Bern (1981). Klossowski’s works were included in documenta 7, Kassel, in 1982. The Artist authored several publications, including Le Bain de Diane (1980); Le Baphomet (1965); Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux (1969); La Monnaie vivant (1970); and the trilogy Les Lois de l’hospitalité, consisted of Roberte ce soir (1954), La Révocation de l’édit de Nantes (1959), and Le Souffleur (1960).