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.
I put together a petition asking the Met to take down a piece of art that is undeniably romanticizing the sexualiza… https://t.co/UlW9X5c7Eb— Mia Merrill (@Mia Merrill)1512079077.0
The painting is called "Thérèse Dreaming" and it's by the artist Balthus. Here it is:
via: TwitterAs 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?
@miazmerrill Seriously?! Is it the most adept way to critically question the history of art and its darkest aspects… https://t.co/K4PcYwy8Z3— Eimear O'Shea ☘️🇮🇪🏳️🌈🇺🇸 (@Eimear O'Shea ☘️🇮🇪🏳️🌈🇺🇸)1512433666.0
You also can't assume that just because something rubs you the wrong way, others are also bothered by it.
@miazmerrill Please don't burn books or art. It isn't up to you to ban what I might want to see and find different… https://t.co/sxYKKXEmU2— Vicki Halliday (@Vicki Halliday)1512433432.0
This painting in particular was created by someone who tended to depict pubescent girls in similarly suggestive poses.
@TodayZen Is it not highly unethical for a middle-aged man to orchestrate portraits that place children in adult se… https://t.co/sn2CK2BniH— Mia Merrill (@Mia Merrill)1512484449.0
In cases like this, context is important.
@MsMelChen @ClarkHat Sometimes, context matters... Balthus was just a _wee_ bit obsessed with young girls. “Guitar… https://t.co/SdQKvP7ezZ— Jeff Fair 🇸🇴 (@Jeff Fair 🇸🇴)1512445093.0
But some art is made specifically to make people uncomfortable.
@miazmerrill By “simply asking” The Met to remove a painting that makes you feel “shocked” and uncomfortable, you a… https://t.co/qZOm2Ia5iS— Dave Miranda (@Dave Miranda)1512385076.0
Controversies in the art world are intense and difficult.
Controversies in the art world are always the most embarrassing. At first you are like, yes, don’t take down the Ba… https://t.co/rqj2Ec3DWB— porochista khakpour (@porochista khakpour)1512513756.0