Fundación MAPFRE

Derain, Balthus, Giacometti

An artistic friendship

Curator: Jacqueline Munck

With hindsight we can see that Derain, Balthus and Giacometti followed similar guidelines in their work, particularly in terms of their common outlook on the past of art.

The three share a powerful yearning for modernity, yet are passionately interested in painting’s history and the art of distant civilizations. They are fascinated by “the dark forces of matter” (Derain) and, in general, pay close attention to the “wonderful, unknown” reality before their eyes (Giacometti). 

In 1920, when he returned from the front, Derain was an extremely successful artist. After being one of the most important among the Fauvists, that movement which had created art based on pure, bright colours at the turn of the century, his look turned to tradition and the secrets of painting, focussing his attention on the realist style which is known as the “Byzantine Style”.

In the early 1930’s Alberto Giacometti and Balthus, two artists from a younger generation, were fascinated by this "different" Derain, radically new but respecting art from the past. A good friendship grew between the three during their visits to studios and conversations, which was consolidated at successive meetings and projects. Through Derain's painting and sculpture arose a true friendship between the three, based on reciprocal admiration which Balthus and Giacometti talked about throughout their lives, since Derain was the first to die, and the oldest and reference point in this relationship.

MAPFRE Fundation


From 1 February 2018 to 6 May 2018
Image for Derain, Balthus, Giacometti
Artwork(s) loaned
  • Self-portrait with two Courbet

    Balthus (1908 - 2001)

    Self-portrait with two Courbet 1940
    Black Pen on paper