NEW YORK CITY — A New Yorker has started a Care2 petition asking the Metropolitan Museum of Art to remove Balthus’ painting, Thérèse Dreaming, because she says it depicts a young girl in a sexually suggestive pose.
As of Friday, the petition has gathered over 3,000 signatures of a 4,000 goal.
Mia Merrill says she was “shocked” to see the painting on display when she visited the museum last weekend, according to a press release.
“It is disturbing that the Met would proudly display such an image,” Merrill told Care2. “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.”
In 2013, when the Met hosted the exhibit “Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations,” the museum placed a plaque at the start of the show that read: “Some of the paintings in this exhibition may be disturbing to some visitors.”
“If The Met had the wherewithal to reference the disturbing nature of Balthus in the 2013 exhibit, they understand the implications of displaying his art today,” Merrill said.
Merrill plans to send the museum her Care2 petition signatures alongside a letter expressing her concern.
“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,” Merrill said.
She says she doesn’t want all Balthus paintings removed.
“I am simply asking The Met to more carefully vet the art on its walls, and understand what this painting insinuates,” Merrill said, telling PIX11 News that Balthus “has a track record of voyeuristic tendencies with pre-pubescent girls.”
Visitors at the Met tell PIX11 News art has always been about individual interpretation and they believe “Thérèse Dreaming” should be here.