By Guy Davenport
Airborne dirt and dust jacket notes: "The portray of Balthus, enigmatic, poetic, and arguable, is either deeply conventional and extensively smooth. In tracing a few of its kinship with the poetry of Rilke (Balthus's formative years mentor), with Picasso and others, man Davenport makes an attempt during this set of meditations written over numerous years in his notebooks to put Balthus because the smooth grasp in whose arms the nice culture of Western work now largely lies. those terse notes recommend readings of numerous of the main work, hint topics and routine photos, and pose speculative principles in regards to the that means and nature of Balthus. those notes will not be an orderly argument by means of an paintings critic yet a development of responses, roughly goal, by way of a author who sees Balthus as a superb poet in addition to a very good painter."
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BASIL BUNTING, the Northumberland poet, found another reason to damn the shallowness and ignorance of our times in that he had reached a great age before he saw the painting of Balthus. Yeats was luckier. Federico Fellini, writing about Balthus in awe and reverence, calls him the master custodian of our heritage in painting (Leymarie and Fellini, 17). Balthus was admired and collected by Picasso and Albert Camus, yet American critics with a few exceptions have denounced him for both his subject matter and his style.
They happen well after he had achieved a sophisticated style. They are like Beckett's writing in French because he felt that his English was too facile. Balthus's use of rough surfaces in his Roman period served the same purpose: to humble facileness. In these awkwardnesses we see a kinship with Henri Rousseau, who in many ways is Balthus's secret master. Compare The Poef and His Muse with the portrait of Derain. Each eludes the neoclassical in its own way. IN THE course of an essay praising the painting of Anita Albus, Claude Levi-Strauss makes this observation: "The history of contemporary painting, as it has developed during the last hundred years, is confronted with a paradox.
New York: Harper & Row, 1983. Levi-Strauss, Claude, The Elementary Structures of Kinship, tr. James Harle Bell, John Richard Sturmer, and Rodney Needham. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. , The View from Afar, tr. Joachim Neugroschel and Phoebe Hoss. New York: Basic Books, 1985. Leymarie, Jean, Balthus. Geneva: Skira, 1979. , and Federico Fellini, Balthus. Venice: Edizioni La Biennale, 1980. Lifton, Betty Jean, The King of Children: A Biography of Janusc Korczak. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Livingstone, Marco, R.