Looking at the Book of Balthus

Johanna Ekström at Cabinet Magazine:

When I was a child, there was a book about the Polish artist Balthus in the small library at our country home. It was dad’s book, big and heavy. The skin between my thumb and index finger stretched taut when I took it down from the shelf. Sometimes I would sit at the table there in the library and page through the book. The table was by a window that looked out on a forest of firs. The light from the window was dim and pale; it seemed to lack strength and direction.

I recognized the color palette in the book from museum visits with my parents. We always made our way to the hall with “the Dutch.” Those soft, melty tones, light filtering through a colored glass or an open window, tender and clarifying, causing skin or milk or the yellow fabric of a skirt to press forward and move the viewer. Balthus’s tranquility was Dutch. Still-life quiet. There was a desire for sleep or absence.

more here.