The Metropolitan Museum of Art is refusing to remove a 1938 painting by the artist known as Balthus that depicts a young girl in what some are saying is a sexually suggestive pose.
A New York City woman started a petition to ask the Met to remove the painting. Mia Merrill argued that it depicts a young girl in a sexually suggestive pose from a man’s point of view.
The painting, called Thérèse Dreaming, shows a girl sitting on a chair with her knee up, which exposes her underwear.
But museum spokesman Ken Weine says visual art provides an opportunity for conversation ‘through informed discussion and respect for creative expression’.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has refused to remove the Balthus painting Thérèse Dreaming (pictured) from its public viewing collection
Merrill (left) said of Balthus (right): ‘The artist of this painting, Balthus, had a noted infatuation with pubescent girls and this painting is undeniably romanticizing the sexualization of a child’
‘Moments such as this provide an opportunity for conversation, and visual art is one of the most significant means we have for reflecting on both the past and the present and encouraging the continuing evolution of existing culture’ Weine said.
On a Care2 petition that has so far amassed more than 6,000 signatures, Merrill wrote: ‘It is disturbing that the Met would proudly display such an image.
‘They are a renowned institution and one of the largest, most respected art museums in the United States.
‘The artist of this painting, Balthus, had a noted infatuation with pubescent girls and this painting is undeniably romanticizing the sexualization of a child.’
Merrill’s petition states: ‘Given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations that become more public each day, in showcasing this work for the masses, The Met is romanticizing voyeurism and the objectification of children.’
She concludes: ‘Ultimately, it’s a small ask in consideration of how expansive their art collection is (they can easily hang up another painting), how overtly sexual the painting is, and the current news headlines highlighting a macro issue about the public health and safety of women.’
Merrill continued in her petition to remove the painting: ‘Given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations that become more public each day, in showcasing this work for the masses, The Met is romanticizing voyeurism and the objectification of children’
The Met, one of the largest art museums in the world, held a 2013 exhibition of Balthus paintings titled ‘Balthus: Cats and Girls – Paintings and Provocations’.
The exhibition was prefaced with a warning that some of its content might be ‘disturbing’.
Balthus, born Balthasar Klossowski de Rola (1908-2001), was a European painter particularly known for his portraits of girls and young women.