Balthus, Thérèse Dreaming, 1938, oil on canvas, 59 x 51".

Met Museum Defends Balthus Painting Despite Petition for Its Removal

An online petition for the removal of Balthus’s erotically charged painting of a young girl, Thérèse Dreaming, 1938, from the walls of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has not persuaded the institution to take down the work, writes Peter Libbey of the New York Times. The petition has garnered more than eight thousand signatures. An excerpt from it reads: “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.”

Responding to the protest, Ken Weine, the museum’s chief communications officer, said, “Moments such as this provide an opportunity for conversation, 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.”

Mia Merrill, the author of the petition, claims that she was not trying to censor the painting, and suggested that a work by a female peer of Balthus be put in its place. But she did defend her reasons for the petition: “The blatant objectification and sexualization of a child is where I draw the line,” she said.