Le salon (1942) by Balthus

Le salon - Balthus - 1942

Artwork Information

TitleLe salon
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions114.3 x 146 cm (45 x 57 1/2 in)
Current LocationThe Museum of Modern Art, New York
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About Le salon

One of the most controversial art exhibitions in Paris in 1942 was Le Salon, which featured Balthus’ paintings. His artworks were criticized for their erotic and provocative nature. The controversy surrounding the exhibition raised debates about artistic freedom and censorship.

Balthus’ paintings displayed at Le Salon portrayed young girls in a sensual manner, featuring suggestive poses and clothing. The artist’s many critics argued that these works sexualized underage girls, a paramount moral issue. Despite its notoriety regarding morality, from an art standpoint of view, Balthus’ paintings make reference to classical painting techniques from different periods of history.

Le Salon became a symbol of the tense political climate in France during World War II when Germany occupied most parts of Europe.Worth mentioning that many renowned artists boycotted this exhibition to show their opposition against the German occupation. Additionally, there was a division between intellectuals about what kind of art should be allowed or censored during wartime.

Overall, the Le Salon exhibition garnered extensive attention due to its content and contribution towards discussions on artistic freedom versus censorship as well as highlighted cultural clashes resulting from WWII’s war policies impacting European countries’ unity.

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