This is the first full-scale biography of one of the most elusive and enigmatic painters of our time: the self-proclaimed Count Balthus Klossowski de Rola, whose brilliant, markedly sexualized portraits, especially of young girls, are among the most memorable images in contemporary art.
Balthus’s complexities are clarified and his genius understood in this book that derives its immediacy from Nicholas Fox Weber’s long and intense conversations with Balthus himself–who never previously consented to discuss his life and work with a biographer–as well as Weber’s interviews with the artist’s closest associates. This biography was first published by Knopf in 1999 and is now available for the first time from Dalkey Archive Press.
“A book that often reads like an update of one of those late novels of Henry James – as adapted, say, by Vladimir Nabokov – in which the narrator finds all appearances to be deceptive and every revelation is calculated to raise more questions than it answers” – Wall Street Journal
“The character of Balthus’s work – its uneasy atmosphere and provocative allusions to adolescent girls – preoccupies Weber (…) One of his most illuminating discussions of Balthus’s peculiarities is based on a group of drawings produced to illustrate “Wuthering Heights.” Analyzing both Bronte’s novel and Balthus’s lifelong fascination with it, Weber remarks: “The machinery of love in Balthus’s universe seems to be one of watching and attraction more than consummation. The ultimate goal is supremacy – far more than tenderness or intimacy.” This seems a fair appraisal of Balthus’s patent voyeurism and also of his life” – Dore Ashton, Washington Post