MY VISIT WITH BALTHUS

Balthus, born Balthasar Klossowski, in 1908, was sixty-two when we met, some forty years ago. I had never known a great artist, and he looked the part, especially in paint-splattered trousers and a rakish silk scarf. His manners were lordly, and his languid speech caressed the French language even when he was bemoaning something, especially his work, which was always going badly, or modernity, with which he was at odds. He affected an air of tragic weariness, yet he still had the agile grace of the ephebe he had been, as well as a bad boy’s appetite for surprise.

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