André Gide, 1955
Graphite on paper
100 x 71 cm
39 3/8 x 27 7/8 in.
This work is listed on the artist's official website: www.pierre-klossowski.fr
Oreste Del Buono, Milan Various provenancesPrivate collection, Italy
1955, June 29, Paris, Cour de Rohan, Pierre Klossowski 1968, July 6-August 1, Geneva, Aurora galerie d'art moderne, OEuvres de Pierre Klossowski et Roman Cieslewicz 1981, June 20-August 2, Bern, Kunsthalle, Pierre Klossowki, Simulacra, n° 7, repr. 1990, 3 October-2 December, Paris, Fondation National des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques; 14 December-27 January 1991, Marseille, Musée Cantini; 5 March-8 May, Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia; 10 July-12 September, Valencia, IVAM, La Sala parpallo; 7 October-9 December, Bristol, Arnolfini Gallery, Pierre Klossowki / Retrospective 1950-1990, in cat exp, repr. p. 63 & 204 2006, 20 September-19 November, London, Whitechapel Gallery; 21 December-18 March 2007, Cologne, Museum Lduwig; 4 April-4 June 2007, Paris, Centre Pompidou, Pierre Klossowski, Tableaux vivants, in cat exp.
Jacques Henric, Pierre Klossowski, Adam Biro, Paris, 1989, repr. p.83 & p.139
Maurice Blanchot, Pierre Klossowski, La décadence du Nu, Black Dog Publishing Limited, London, 2002, repr. p. 43
An unclassifiable artist and author, Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) produced a double work between literature and drawing. Born in Paris in 1905 into an artistic family, both his parents were painters. His mother was a student of Bonnard and his brother was the painter Balthus. Klossowski drew very early and grew up in contact with the neo-impressionists. He was frequently visited by Derain, Maurice Denis, and the collector Ambroise Vollard. From childhood he showed a particular interest in literature, philosophy, theology and psychoanalysis. His attention was drawn to authors who were controversial, sulphurous and subject to criticism. He wrote numerous essays on Sade and studied Nietzsche. His interest in a certain kind of literature led him, as an artist, to break away from morality.
It was the poet Rilke who recommended Pierre Klossowski to André Gide and he became his assistant. André Gide, a resolutely modern writer, soon gave up giving him this task. He considered him "too artistic" and enrolled him in philosophy. Gide took on the role of tutor in Klossowski's life and they had a long-standing epistolary relationship.
After several controversial appearances and publications, in 1950 he drew his first compositions and portraits in graphite. The figures were immaterial at the time, laid down on yellowed paper like old grimoires. Klossowski gradually gave them a human-sized proportion, wanting the viewer to be on a level with his subjects. The desired effect is a play of mirrors, inducing a doubt that is fundamental for the artist.
We find in his first drawings a mannerist grace due to the elongation of the forms. The Portrait of André Gide is in this vein, where the hands are elongated to represent the model's status as a writer. Here André Gide is annotating two open books in the foreground: the Aeneid and Virgil's Bucolics. The Aeneid, which he translated into French, followed him throughout his intellectual career and was one of his bedside books until his death. André Gide, with his pen in the air, is interrupted in his work by a small flute player placed behind him. The symbolism of this scene remains a secret for the general public, but an obvious one for the initiated, as these two characters exchange a look that is heavy with secrets and innuendo.
The year 1956 marked his first exhibition, which took place at the Cour de Rohan, at the instigation of Bataille, Masson, and Giacometti. The portrait of Gide was exhibited there and André Breton said that it was "truer than life".
From the 1970s, André Gide frequented the philosophers Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. He became part of
He was part of the philosophical thought of his time, which in retrospect will be called French theory. Indifferent to the aesthetic debates taking place in France in the 1960s and 1970s between abstract, figurative and new informal art, he began to reflect on the notion of simulacra.
"Where is the fiction, where is the real? What is fiction, what is reality? There is osmosis between the two. »
- Pierre Klossowski during his interview with Rémy Zaugg, 1980-1981
His drawing activity was enriched as he replaced graphite with coloured pencil. The colouring is done in transparency, thanks to highlights that preserve the immaterial aspect of his works.