Met Refuses To Bow To Petition Demanding Removal Of Balthus 'Thérèse Dreaming' (1938), Suggesting Dialogue Instead

Balthus, Thérese Dreaming (1938). © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Balthus, Thérese Dreaming (1938). © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has no intention of removing a painting of a young girl by Balthus, 'Thérèse Dreaming' (1938), that has been targeted by an online petition. 

The petition, launched by New York City resident Mia Merrill, has garnered more than 8,700 signatures in five days. Headlined “Metropolitan Museum of Art: Remove Balthus’s Suggestive Painting of a Pubescent Girl, Thérèse Dreaming", the petition states that the Met should not “proudly display” an image that “romanticizes the sexualization of a child.”

In response to Merrill's accusation that the Met is, perhaps unintentionally, supporting voyeurism and the objectification of children, a spokesman for the Met called the controversy “an opportunity for a conversation” about the “continuing evolution of existing culture.”

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s mission is to ‘…collect, study, conserve, and present significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas.’ 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.”

ArtNet News provides considerable insights into the background of the painting and also Balthus as an artist.

We need dialogue and conversation around all art, its meaning, but also its intention -- not censorship based on affronts. Just remember that in the Bush administration, Atty Gen John Ashcroft had a blue drape hung over the naked breast of the Capitol's Lady Liberty statue.

Personally, I find Picasso's visual chopping up of women into little frightening pieces to be more unsettling than this artwork. Will we be banning Renoir's naked ladies next?

If much of our great art has come from men's obsession with naked and nubile ladies, then let's talk about how that impacts our treatment of women. What rights is the male artist expressing? Censoring truth is not the road to freedom.

We need dialogue and conversation around all art, its meaning, but also its intention -- not censorship based on affronts. Just remember that in the Bush administration, Atty Gen John Ashcroft had a blue drape hung over the naked breast of the Capitol's Lady Liberty statue. ~ Anne

Betty Tompkins' Ballsy Feminist Art Project 'Women Words' Heads To Art Basel Dec 7-10

WOMEN WORDS #51 (DAVINCI) BY BETTY TOMPKINS

WOMEN WORDS #51 (DAVINCI) BY BETTY TOMPKINS

The rebellious, banned, ballsy and sometimes banned art of American feminist Betty Tompkins soars into relevancy in the age of Trump. Her big moment comes at the age of 72 and celebrates a project launched in 2010 as 'Women Words'.

In making my own short graphic post two days ago -- one in which I referenced graphic, slutty words about my own identity -- I was actually in sync with women worldwide who responded to Tompkins' invite for them to share phrases about women.

The answers were sent back from all over the world and were shocking - but not surprising - exposing the corrosive, endemic misogyny in our world. Tompkins made 1,000 paintings of the words, putting the writing on the wall in unflinching plain-speak.

Betty's project 'Women Words' will be front and center in Art Basel in early December. The timing couldn't be more perfect, and I will cover it in detail.

WOMEN WORD #7 BY BETTY TOMPKINS

WOMEN WORD #7 BY BETTY TOMPKINS

Federal Appeals Court Reverses Trump Administration's Scott Lloyd's Refusal To Allow Abortion For Immigrant

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The full US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 6-3 on Tuesday that a 17-year-old immigrant held in federal custody in Texas must be allowed to obtain an abortion. The teen, known only as Jane Doe, is about 15 weeks pregnant and entered the US in September. 

Updated: (The Trump administration did not appeal the new decision to the US Supreme Court, which seems unlikely to take the case. The ACLU reports that the abortion was concluded.)

The young woman legally obtained a state court order Sept. 25 permitting her to have an abortion, which is legal. But federal officials in Texas refused to transport her or release her into temporary custody to have the procedure, paid for with her own money. 

Lawyers for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for sheltering children who illegally enter the country unaccompanied by a parent, have said the department under the Trump Administration has a policy of "refusing to facilitate" abortions and that releasing the teenager would require arranging a transfer of custody and follow-up care. E. Scott Lloyd, the head of the federal refugee agency that oversees detention centers for minors, is a longtime antiabortion activist.

A district court federal judge sided with the teen last week, ordering that a date for the procedure be set. On Friday, the three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled 2-1 that the government had until Oct. 31 to release the teen. Texas has a 20-week abortion law, leaving activists to argue that the court was trying to run out the clock. 

The Texas Observer writes today : "The ACLU estimates that hundreds of pregnant minors are in federal custody. According to documents obtained by the ACLU, Lloyd has personally visited pregnant teens in ORR shelters to counsel them against having an abortion. Hays said they don’t believe he has visited Doe."

Michelle Goldberg addressed the situation last week, citing E. Scott Lloyd's anti-abortion activism and several articles decrying birth control.  Experts estimate that 60 percent of female migrants have been raped. 

Brigitte Amiri of the A.C.L.U., the lead attorney on Doe’s case, told Goldberg" 

 “The amount of opposition to this young women’s abortion is just astounding,” she said. “And they continue to double down over and over again. Every step of the way, I think at some point justice will prevail and there will be some sense from the federal government that the rule of law prohibits what they’re doing, but they keep taking it to the next level.”

When it comes to controlling women’s bodies, the only limit is what they can get away with, concludes Goldberg and we concur.