When the English art critic John Russell was preparing an important retrospective exhibition of works by Balthus for the Tate Gallery, London, in 1968, he was instructed by the artist to state in the catalogue, “Balthus is a painter of whom nothing is known.” This extreme craving for privacy seems peculiar, especially on the part of an artist, an individual, after all, whose overriding purpose in life is to secure public appreciation of endeavors which inevitably reflect the innermost aspects of his being. It is an odd fact, though, that many artists have been secretive. Perhaps they have feared that the overt quest for admiration was already revealing too much, betraying secrets which had best be kept from the world, and even from themselves. The very willingness to exhibit creations produced in circumstances which are the ne plus ultra of privacy presupposes a certain tendency toward exhibitionism, an inclination...

 

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