windows and desire

The complexities opened by Balthus's painting within contemporary discourse concerning art is exemplified by works such as The Room (1952-54). Balthus maintained that he did not attempt to make The Room as an erotic representation. When we assess the picture however we cannot but notice that the young woman in the chair may well be enjoying an ecstatic moment. She may also simply be asleep. The possibility of the latter reading retreats somewhat when we realize that the curtain has only now been thrown open by another figure which exposes the girl's languid figure to the light. Still, this remains an ambiguous painting - quintessentially Balthus. Questions jostle into formation in the viewer's mind: Has the young woman been masturbating? (images of auto-arousal are rare in Western oil painting). Has she been the victim of an attacker? (Does the limpness of her right arm imply harm?); Or, has she merely been resting / sleeping near a curtain which is warmed by the sun? If the later is the case then she may be understood as confident in her body and her sexuality as she makes no effort to hide herself as the curtain is thrust open.(read)

The Window (1933)


No comments:

Post a Comment