Wednesday, November 02, 2011

There'll Always Be a France (Part Deux)

Still decompressing from jetlag occasioned by my recent return from the land of the Ignoble Frog, but until regular posting resumes I thought I'd share something I stumbled upon at the fabulous Pompidou Center in Paris while waiting to get into the Edvard Munch show.

From 1963, please enjoy Roger and his Son by remarkable Polish-French modernist Balthus.

And then tell me the son in the painting doesn't look disturbingly like this MTV icon.

Seriously, I have no idea if Mike Judge had this painting in mind when he created Beavis and Butthead, but the resemblance strikes me as too close to be an accident.

I should also add that there actually is another rock-and-roll connection with this painting -- Bono (yes him) sang at Balthus' funeral. Go figure.


steve simels said...



Unknown said...


a) the boy doesn't resemble that cartoon character (I don't know which one it is because I never watched Beavis and Butthead) all that much; or

b) people aren't interested enough in the similarity to let you know.

Incidentally, the more I looked at the painting the more I noticed a lightly shaded area between the boy's legs. Which leads me to another "a" or "b" proposition:

a) the artist had originally painted a leg there but had second thoughts and decided to have the boy's legs further apart so he painted it in the position it is now and forgot to paint over the leg's original position (or did a poor job of painting over the leg's original position); or

b) the painter decided to give the boy a ghostly tail.

Who knows?

Ah, the mystery of art...

steve simels said...


Unknown said...

I've also just noticed the sloppily-painted feet on the father. My guess is that when Balthus went to work on the father he started at the top, spending a lot of time making sure the details of the face and head were right, and then he went to work on the shirt, but as time went by he steadily lost interest (below the hips is where things get real sloppy), so by the time Balthus got to the feet he had lost all interest. (Well, that's what it looks like to me.)

Actually, the more I look at the painting the less I enjoy looking at it. I'm beginning to suspect that I don't think Balthus is a terribly good painter. But, as Balthus may have once said to someone like me: "À chacun son goût."

Brooklyn Girl said...

While this painting has a disturbing unfinished quality to it, Balthus was actually a superb painter.

Anonymous said...

I kinda liked Balthus a lot when I was in college, then decided he was kinda creepy. Of course, maybe that was his intent all along.


Unknown said...

"Of course, maybe that was his intent all along."

Balthus is certainly provocative. For example, I think that where he places hands in his paintings is entirely deliberate, especially in the paintings of adults with children. (I think he's definitely being an agent provocateur there.)