Art is important. It's what sets us apart from the rest of the creatures on the planet. (Which is good, because there are some other behaviors we participate in that are pretty downright barbaric). We encourage children to express themselves through crayon drawings and macaroni masterpieces. We even create public building full of art in the hopes of preserving our history and encouraging others to create their own marks.
But how should we react when art challenges us? That's what we're exploring in today's story about a work of art found in the Met.
On a recent trip to the Met, Mia Merrill came across a painting she found offensive.
She felt that the painting sexualized a young girl and that in today’s climate, there’s no place for that in the art world.
She started a petition asking the Met to consider removing the painting from public view.
The painting is called "Thérèse Dreaming" and it's by the artist Balthus. Here it is:
As you can see, the painting does depict a young girl in what some might call a suggestive pose.
It’s not impossible to see why Merrill found the painting questionable.
Many people think Merrill's attempts to get the painting hidden away are ridiculous.
There’s certainly the “slippery slope” argument to consider. If we censor this painting, what else do we need to censor? Could we reach a point in the future where there is no art left in the museums?
Is there possibly another way to approach the issue?
Obviously, we can’t get to a point where we keep all controversial items from ever seeing the light of day. That would be a huge step back in the progress we’ve made as humans who create amazing things.
You also can't assume that just because something rubs you the wrong way, others are also bothered by it.
Whose job is it to make these decisions? Surely we can’t just put one person in making the call, right?
On the other hand…