Balthus and Cats

This album reveals Balthus’s fascination with felines and is a perfect complement to the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition Balthus: Cats and Girls that opens in September 2013. Alain Vircondelet was a close friend of the late Balthus and originally wrote this text in intimate collaboration with the artist. He explains the symbolism within Balthus’s paintings and draws parallels between the sleepy, languishing forms of the girls and cats he painted. Balthus, who referred to himself as the Thirteenth King of Cats, regularly featured the feline form in his art, even as early as age nine, when he produced a story of his beloved Mitsou in forty Indian ink drawings. Balthus’s wife Setsuko and their daughter Harumi shared his deep affection for cats, and the family’s devotion becomes evident in this volume, which offers behind-the-scenes access into their home, featuring personal photographs, belongings, and reproductions of the artist’s cat paintings.

About The Author

Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, 1908–2001) is widely regarded as one of the most important figurative painters of the modern era. Alain Vircondelet has written numerous books, including biographies of Balthus and John Paul II (Flammarion, 2004), and the three-volume Venice (Flammarion, 2006).

  • Publish Date: August 27, 2013
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - Individual Artists - General
  • Publisher: Flammarion
  • Trim Size: 7-1/2 x 9-1/2
  • Pages: 96
  • US Price: $29.95
  • CDN Price: $29.95
  • ISBN: 978-2-08-020160-7


“The strength of Balthus and Cats is in the amount of material shared by his family—photographs, mementos, and reproductions of his cat paintings—which make the book a posthumous revelation for many of Balthus' biggest fans. For the prolific artist, cats were loyal, creative companions and muses. They helped him realize himself and his work in a way that will appeal to any art lover.” ~Complex Art+Design

Balthus and Cats is an exquisite little volume, a treasure trove of the bizarre world of Balthus that is at once lingeringly luxurious as our eyes traverse the pages..” ~Miss Rosen Blog
“This beautiful little book is a portrait of the artist at magus…Cat with Mirror graces the cover of this quirky little book which anyone enamored of Balthus—will want to add the shelf…” –American Arts Quarterly

Author Bookshelf: Alain Vircondelet