Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, known as Balthus, was a Polish-French modern artist.
22 Facts About Balthus
Balthus is known for his erotically charged images of pubescent girls, but for the refined, dreamlike quality of his imagery.
Balthus insisted that his paintings should be seen and not read about, and he resisted any attempts made to build a biographical profile.
Balthus was born in Paris, in 1908, to Prussian expatriate parents.
Balthus's father, Erich Klossowski, was an art historian who wrote a noted monograph on Honore Daumier.
However, Balthus told his biographer Nicholas Fox Weber that this was erroneous, and that his mother came "apparently from a Protestant family in the south of France".
In 1926 Balthus visited Florence, where he copied many frescos by the Renaissance master Piero della Francesca.
From 1930 to 1931 Balthus served in the French army in Morocco.
Balthus was drafted into the Moroccan infantry in Kenitra and Fes, worked as a secretary, and sketched his painting La Caserne.
Balthus showed no interest in modernist styles such as Cubism.
Balthus's paintings were realistic but introverted, in the manner of the second generation of Surrealist painters such as Salvador Dali, who often used realistic techniques to depict psychological motifs or dream images.
Balthus often depicted pubescent girls in erotic and voyeuristic poses.
Balthus designed the sets and costumes for Artaud's adaptation for Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Cenci, Ugo Betti's Delitto all'isola delle capre and Barrault's adaptation of Julius Caesar.
Balthus had met her as early as 1924, and she was the model for the aforementioned Cathy Dressing and for a series of portraits.
In 1940, with the invasion of France by German forces, Balthus fled with his wife Antoinette to Savoy to a farm in Champrovent near Aix-les-Bains, where he began work on two major paintings: Landscape near Champrovent and The Living Room.
Balthus returned to France in 1946 and a year later traveled with Andre Masson to Southern France, meeting figures such as Picasso and Jacques Lacan, who eventually became a collector of his work.
Balthus became a friend of the filmmaker Federico Fellini and the painter Renato Guttuso.
Balthus was one of the few living artists to be represented in the Louvre, when his painting The Children was acquired from the private collection of Pablo Picasso.
Balthus co-authored a book of dialogues with the neurobiologist Semir Zeki, entitled La Quete de l'essentiel.
Balthus's work has influenced several contemporary artists, notably Duane Michals and Emile Chambon.
Balthus held his first exhibition at Galerie Pierre, Paris, in 1934.
Since then, despite attempts, no planned exhibition of Balthus's work was censored or cancelled for such allegations.