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Balthus died on February the 18th

The golden days - 1945

Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908 - 2001), known as Balthus, was a Polish-French modern artist.

Throughout his career, Balthus rejected the usual conventions of the art world. He insisted that his paintings should be seen and not read about, and he resisted any attempts made to build a biographical profile.

Balthus showed no interest in modernist styles such as Cubism. His style is primarily classical. Balthus painted the human figure at a time when figurative art was largely ignored. His technique and compositions were inspired by pre-Renaissance painters, but also reveal eerie intimations of contemporary surrealists like Giorgio de Chirico.

His paintings depict pubescent pensive adolescents who dream or read in rooms that are closed to the outside world. Some of the young girls are in erotic and voyeuristic poses. One of his most notorious works  was The Guitar Lesson (1934), which caused controversy due to its sexually explicit depiction of a young girl arched over the lap of her female teacher, whose hands are positioned on the girl as for playing the guitar: one grasping her hair, the other near her exposed crotch. If many of his paintings shows young girls in an erotic context. Balthus insisted that his work was not erotic.

Many want his work emptied of all pedophilia suspicion. Balthus would be less shocking than troubling. It does not create embarrassment, but anxiety. If he paints lolita's with insolent poses, it is less in the predatory spirit than out of nostalgia for this magical moment when one leaves childhood. But still, our gaze remains screwed on the panties, projection of all the fantasies.

The cat is also an important element in the work of Balthus. In 1921, Mitsou, a book was published, which contained forty drawings of cats by Balthus which illustrated a story of a young boy and his cat

In the late 1990s, Balthus lived his later years, having lost control of his gaze and his hand - the artist had to abandon his pencils and resign himself to using a Polaroid camera in order to capture the pauses of his model.
Balthus died in 2001, in Rossinière, Switzerland.  During his lifetime, his paintings of languid girls shocked. Sixteen years after his death, the galleries ripped them off.

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