Balthus may be one of my all time favorite painters of our time. This slide show takes you through several of his life works. He lived from 1908-2001. Bono sang at his funeral.
What I love about his work is the way he carried a strong connection with the past and yet remained completely contemporary. The way he paints the figure has such a strong sense of volume that it feels like sculpture. The surface textures and rich color together with his classical sense of composition helps to make each painting hauntingly poetic.
The mirror has many possible symbolic meanings but I think the one most appropriate to Balthus is the mirror as a metaphor for the spiritual world. In the mirror we see another world reflected much like ours yet different, a world that we can see but are not able to pass into unless by some magic or spiritual opening as was the case with Alice the morning she passed into her looking glass. With Balthus, painting itself functions as a sort of magical way to pass through into a world of greater spiritual potency and more vivid beauty.