I am reading Time Out New York, about what's new at the Met, and the first one is "Balthus: Cats and girls—paintings and provocations". It says "Balthus was one of the most controversial figurative painters of the 20th century, notorious for his frankly erotic—if not somewhat pervy—full length renderings of Lolita-esque subjects. His obsession with pre-teen sexuality translated into vaguely unnerving images, more redolent of Thanatos than Eros".
I went to the Met's site and googled the collection, and sure enough, it's up-skirt shots (paintings) of numerous eleven year old girls.
Why the fuck are we endorsing this shit? I don't give a shit about "ooh, art, controversy, that means you're doing it right'. NOPE. I don't call child pornography art, fuck that.
1. This was an adult man who was painting up the skirt paintings of eleven year old girls. Yes, wow, in the forties in France eleven was practically marriage age. Woohoo. I guess that guy wasn't a creep then.
2.To all those arguing that this is not child pornography, and this is actually "really interesting artistic content", of course you are free to have your opinion. But I would just like to share my mother's thoughts on the subject. See, she used to work as a behavior specialist (a therapist) with sex offenders, to interview them and assess their level of danger for the courts, and then to work with them directly and draw up behavior contracts, specifying exactly what they could and couldn't do (which was very explicit). She saw these paintings and said that paintings like this would re-confirm the conviction that they already have that children are enticing them sexually, and incite them to go out and re-offend. Personally, I don't really feel like it adds a lot to society to reaffirm the twisted ideas that people like Joshua Komisarjevsky have about eleven year old girls, but then again, some people think it's art.
3.This is a society in which 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually abused as children. Giving a pass to these sort of pictures is one of the factors that creates a culture in which this sort of abuse is perpetuated against children.
4. I'd like to quote a comment from below, from Immalittleburner:
It's pretty gross. Sexualising young girls isn't new. It doesn't add to the "discourse" of society. Many times I have heard that the viewer must read the painting in a "contextless" space to understand them. I don't agree. To me it is a tool to show women (in this case young women) as the sex class. The viewer and owner of the painting owns the young woman and her "sexual" display. They aren't breaking down societal norms, or showing something that needs to be shown for the benefit of humanity. Men are still largely lauded as the best artists ever. Saying this is "art" (high art, or fine art at that) really pushes a lot of women, and female artists, out of the conversation.
To me stuff like this is like the rape joke conundrum. Does the joke make fun of the rapist? No? Then it is shit. Do these paintings show how sexualising young women (these are essentially creep shots) make the viewer predatory? No? Then it is shit.
Art has to be 1) original and 2) tell a story. I don't consider this original. And it isn't a story I want to hear. I've already heard this one.