the necessary admission to your own reactionary machinery: from Balthus’s memoir

– Henri Cartier-Bresson, Balthus and Setsuko

– Balthus (1908-2001), The Mountain, 1937

Literature is an objective, a projected result; it is life that is the unconscious, the agitated, the struggling, floundering cause.

The artist’s life is his work, and that is the place to find him.

– Henry James quoted in Joyce Carol Oates’s Introduction to Vanished Splendours: A Memoir, by Balthus, trans. Benjamin Ivry, Harper Collins, New York, 2002, p. xix

– Balthus, The Living Room, 1941-1943

The dead
are discreet,
well in a cool place

– Jules Laforgue quoted in Paul Lombard’s foreword to ibid., p. xi

The story of my childhood is akin to this desire, “reactionary” in the true meaning of the word, to preserve traditions in order to be able to innovate and invent in turn. … The world was never remade starting from nothing, but from reading, listening, and playing differently, with the inexhaustible legacy of those who preceded us.

– Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski, son of Stanislas, brother of Pierre), in ibid., p. 100

– Balthus, Thérèse Dreaming, 1937

I’ve accomplished my work, paintings and drawings, in which undressed young girls abound, not by exploiting an erotic vision in which I’m a voyeur and surrender unknowingly (above all, unknowingly) to some maniacal or shameful tendencies, but by examining a reality whose profound, risky and unpredictable unreadability might be shed, revealing a fabulous nature and mythological dimension, a dream world that admits to its own machinery.

– Ibid., p. 115

– Balthus, La Chambre, 1954