Balthus: How Many Crotch Shots of an Eight-Year-Old Girl Does It Take To Make A Painting?
Balthus is a celebrated European artist known for his sexually charged paintings of little girls. Throughout his career, he blamed the viewers of his work for believing the paintings exhibited any sexually deviant undertones, and insisted that was never his intent.
Later in life, Balthus took almost 2,000 Polaroids of an eight-year-old girl named Anna Wahli. He photographed her once a week for eight years, instructing her to lie in highly sexualized positions, sometimes wearing only underpants, with her legs spread wide, arms behind her head, and often appearing as if she were sleeping. In 2013, Gagosian exhibited 155 of Balthus’ Polaroids, selling them for $20,000-$240,000 each.
Each image from this series utilizes appropriated and cropped photos from Balthus' polaroids and marks them, using pink children's gel pens, with #metoo, the viral hashtag that has given millions of women who have experienced sexual harassment and assault a voice.
Men like Balthus, Picasso, Gauguin, Woody Allen, and Roman Polanski, to name just a few, have been granted immunity from criticism over their actions, in spite of the number of women and girls they have objectified, mistreated, raped, or molested. Their titles as “artistic geniuses” cloak them in protection, and curators and critics are stuck in an antiquated viewpoint that we must separate the art from the artist, even when it is at the expense of women and children.
Censoring artists is out of the question, but what is the responsibility of art institutions, curators, critiques, and art educators to stop separating the art from the artist, and begin presenting an accurate presentation of art history so we can begin to learn from our past?
CALL TO ACTION: Correct art history
Join me in a viewer activated performance piece/CALL TO ACTION to correct art history. Download this free printable bookmark so you can correct art history by placing it in art books at libraries and bookstores that mention the work of Balthus without telling the full truth.
The bookmark does not have to be printed on special paper. Once you print it cut around the border so it’s in the shape of a bookmark and will fit into the book. Just print the left image if you can't print double sided.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!!!
Get bookmarks mailed to you
Send me your address below and I will send you ten bookmarks for free until my supply of 1,000 runs out. If you are a library or bookstore let me know in the message section below and I will send you 50.
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PERFORMANCE/HANG AND RUN AT THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
Installation of wall text next to Balthus' Girl With Cat to provide visitors at The Art Institute of Chicago information about the need to separate the art from the artist.