A Balthus Notebook

Guy Davenport, Author Ecco Press $17.95 (90p) ISBN 978-0-88001-234-8
The enigmatic, unclassifiable paintings of the contemporary Polish artist born Balthasar Klossowski hover on the perimeter of modernism. His adolescent girls aware of their sexuality, his street scenes peopled with somnambulistic pedestrians sealed within themselves, seem to inhabit a timeless world, yet Davenport's assertion that ""our century's events do not exist in Balthus"" is unsubstantiated. Illustrated with eight reproductions, this short, concentrated meditation is pretentious as often as it is helpful. Davenport ( The Geography of the Imagination ) compares Balthus to Rilke, Edmund Spencer, Beckett, Proust, Ionesco, Joyce, Balzac, Sartre, Hogarth, Courbet, Daumier, Watteau and Eakins, among others, yet he says little that is new about the work and even less about the life. He is eloquent when discussing Balthus's vision of childhood, arguing that this painter's most enduring message may be that a culture can best be judged by its treatment of the young. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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