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From the beginning of his long career, Count Balthazar Klossowski de Rola's work was singled out for its enigmatic qualities. Committed to figurative painting even as abstraction dominated the art scene, his dream-like canvases garnered him praise from the Surrealists. As he gradually embarked on new, incendiary subject matter - populating his paintings with intimate images of pre-pubescent girls - Balthus trod a thin line between innocence and prurience, and fast became one of the most controversial of painters.This is a survey of Balthus's life and work published to coincide with an exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 2001, the year of his death. The book explores his many influences, his long Italian sojourns, his contacts with the theatre, and his love of Chinese painting, the essence of which he frequently invoked in his own work. As well as colour illustrations, this volume contains interviews with the artist, recollections from those who knew him, and essays by various art historians.