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Balthus show urged to add warning about nude images
Detail from a painting by Balthus. Image: Kunstforum Wien

Balthus show urged to add warning about nude images

The Local · 18 Feb 2016, 12:46

Published: 18 Feb 2016 12:46 GMT+01:00

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The exhibition is due to open in Vienna next week and Balthus is so controversial that an exhibition featuring his work was banned earlier in Germany over allegations he was a paedophile.

Critics of the exhibition in the Austrian capital are not calling for cancellation, but are demanding that Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien which is organising it offer a warning and an explanation to visitors.

The Museum Folkwang in Essen in Germany was also supposed to show an exhibition by Balthus (1908-1991) but cancelled it before it had opened because of protests.

They were planning to include Polaroid images he had taken when he was over 80 of a girl named Anna Wahli who he started photographing when she was eight, and in the final images he captured she was 16.

He always carefully arranged her poses, and she was often half naked. He caused controversy in the 1930s for art works which were branded paedophilia by critics, when he began painting young girls in what can be viewed as erotic poses. Often they are lying on chairs or sofas with their legs spread apart, skirts pulled up over their legs.

One critic recently called Balthus "one of the creepiest figures in modern art" after an exhibition in New York.

He was a close friend of Picasso and Matisse, and later developed friendships with David Bowie and Bono, although he never aspired to the modern as his acquaintances did and continued to follow the same style throughout his career.

After Germany's childcare agency started looking into the artist, the Museum Folkwang decided to cancel the exhibition, and now critics in Vienna want to see the exhibition treated with more care.

Freedom party politician Hans-Jörg Jenewein said the exhibition in Vienna needed to clarify the artworks with explanatory texts.

Story continues below…

"Throughout his work there is an inherent and unpleasant paedophile undertone. This is particularly evident in his photographs of an eight-year-old girl. Especially in a time where our society is so sensitive to protecting children, such an exhibition should clearly include an explanatory text," he said.

In their advertising for the exhibition at Kunstforumwien.at the organisers make no reference to the more controversial artworks.

Story courtesy of Central European News.

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