Met Won’t Remove Controversial Painting Despite 9k Strong Petition

Rob Grams Rob Grams

Met Won’t Remove Controversial Painting Despite 9k Strong Petition
A painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art has come under scrutiny recently. A petition for its removal is almost at 9000 signatures, but the Met says it’s staying where it is.

The current climate of rightfully outing sexual predators and harassers has been incredibly empowering. We’ve seen men toppled from power due to their lewd and disgraceful behavior, and it doesn’t seem like the trend will anytime soon. An online petition calling for the removal of an undeniably sexual image of a teenaged girl is leading many to ask where that line might be in art.

“Therese Dreaming” is an evocative painting by 1938 French artist Balthus. An online petition claims the painting “sexualizes” the image of a girl and calls for The Metropolitan Museum of Art to remove it. As of writing this article, it stands at almost 9000 signatures.

The painting shows a girl of around 12 or 13 years of age sitting in a bedroom with her eyes closed and hands on her head. One of her feet resting on the chair and her skirt is open exposing her underwear.

Mia Merrill, the creator of the petition, writes:

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 it can be strongly argued that this painting romanticizes the sexualization of a child.

Merril goes as far to call the artists work “pedophilic.” The piece is clearly provocative, but many are asking, isn’t evoking emotions arts greater purpose?

In an update to the petition, hosted on Care2, Merril writes.

I am asking The Met to be more conscientious in how they contextualize pieces. This can be accomplished by either removing the piece from this gallery or by providing more context in the painting’s description. I would consider this petition a success if the Met included a message as brief as, “Some viewers find this piece offensive or disturbing, given Balthus’ artistic infatuation with young girls.”

We’re not here to tell you how to feel about the petition or the piece, but we’d love to know your opinions in the comments.

Featured image source [minfischer]