One of the last great 20th-century masters, Balthus pursued a path that ran exactly contrary to that of the modernist avant-gardes with which he was contemporary. At once quiet and intriguing, his paintings unite colliding contrasts, combining reality and dream, eroticism and innocence, practicality and mystery, the familiar and the uncanny in unique ways.
This volume, published for a retrospective at the Fondation Beyeler, gathers around 50 key paintings from all phases of this legendary artist’s career. It commences with the monumental masterpiece Passage du Commerce-Saint-André (195254), in which Balthus’ intensive study of the dimensions of space and time and their relationship to figure and object is especially apparent.
Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, known as Balthus (19082001), was born in Paris to Polish expatriate parents. He was raised in an exceptionally artistic milieu, with visitors to his household including Rilke (who became his mother’s lover), André Gide, Jean Cocteau, Maurice Denis and Pierre Bonnard. Balthus was one of the few living artists to be represented in the Louvre, when his painting The Children (1937) was acquired from the private collection of Pablo Picasso.
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