A petition decries 'suggestive' painting at NY Met

A screenshot of the 1938 painting entitled Therese Dreaming from the Met museum website.
A screenshot of the 1938 painting entitled Therese Dreaming from the Met museum website.PHOTO: WWW.METMUSEUM.ORG

NEW YORK (AFP) - More than 9,000 people as of Tuesday have signed a petition demanding New York's Met museum remove or contextualise a Balthus painting depicting a young girl in a "suggestive" pose.

Critics of the work by the French-Polish artist known as Balthus, born Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, say it is inappropriate considering the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which triggered a national conversation about sexual misconduct and a barrage of accusations against prominent personalities.

The 1938 painting entitled Therese Dreaming shows a girl sitting with her leg up on a chair, causing her skirt to slide above her thighs, revealing her underwear.

Mia Merrill, who authored the petition, called it "disturbing" that the Metropolitan Museum of Art - one of the world's top fine art institutions - would display the piece.

"Given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations that become more public each day, in showcasing this work for the masses without providing any type of clarification, The Met is, perhaps unintentionally, supporting voyeurism and the objectification of children," she said.

Merrill did not respond to AFP's request for comment.

The museum does not intend to remove the painting or modify the placard hanging next to it, a source close to the Met told AFP.

"Moments such as this provide an opportunity for conversation," the museum said in a statement obtained by AFP.

"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 through informed discussion and respect for creative expression."