Balthus (Balthazar Klossowski de Rola) (February 29, 1908 in Paris – February 18, 2001) was an esteemed Polish modern artist whose work was ultimately anti-modern.
In his formative years his art was sponsored by Rilke. As he matured in the early 1930s, his paintings often depicted pubescent young girls in erotic and voyeuristic poses. His most notorious work was The Guitar Lesson (1934), which caused controversy in Paris due to its depiction of a sexually explicit lesbian scene featuring a young girl and her teacher.
Balthus spent most of his life in France, and as international fame grew he cultivated himself and his past as an enigma. He refused to be photographed, yet was said by many to be "one of the most beautiful men." He moved to Switzerland. That he had a Japanese wife Setsuko thirty-five years his junior simply added to the air of mystery around him.
Prime Ministers and rock stars alike attended the funeral of Balthus. Bono, lead-singer of U2, sang for the hundreds of mourners at the funeral.
Biographers rushed into print shortly after his death, and their work has since been severely and widely criticised as being unreasonable and confused.