Reading: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest
I have recently become fascinated with the work of Balthus. Balthus was a Polish-French modern artist whose works can be viewed as rather controversial and does leave one rather of mixed feelings regarding him and his artwork. There is no denying his boldness and his talent, and the very fact that his artwork sparks such strong feelings (though some of that feeling may very well be repulsion.) His work also makes the viewer question themselves and creates a certain dialogue between canvas and observer which good art should do.
But what is it that makes the work of Balthus so troubling (and perhaps even transfixing), he was most well known for his paintings of young girls (mostly pre-teen) in what could be viewed as sexually provocative poses. One of the things which I think is interesting about this is that one must consider if someone had taken photogrpahs of the same nature as the paintings of Balthus there is a good chance that such individual would be brought up on charges of possessing pedophile paraphernalia (there is a tongue-twister for you) of course I am not suggesting that the work of Balthus should be banned in anyway, however disturbing I stand firm against censorship of artistic expression. But it is just an interesting thought to consider. Of course one could make an argument agasint the differences between a photograph and a painting, the photograph clearly capturing a real person, a real scene, something actual, while a painting is the fantasy of the creator, but Balthus did use actual 11 year old models for his work (maybe something should be said of the parents of the girls? ) for the record to the best of my knowledge there is no known incidences of Balthus actually having inappropriate relationships with young girls.
One of the things which I think can be seen as so interesting about the work of Balthus is the way in which it does make us question ourselves. In one sense many of his images can be seen as being innocent and that it is our own warped, oversexulaizied minds which project something of the obscene into the scenes. On the other hand the works can also be seen as a frank exploration and acknowledgement of the sexuality of children, (to clarify I am not saying that children are or should be viewed as sex objects) but the subjects of his artwork are young girls at an age in which girls are starting to become aware of themselves as sexual beings.