, , , , , , , , ,

The Moma.org website describes Balthus’ “The Street”:

The Street, Balthus’s first large painting, was one of several that scandalized audiences when it was included in the artist’s earliest solo exhibition, in Paris in 1934. Balthus rendered each of the figures in his scene of Paris’s rue Bourbon-le-Chateau frozen mid-movement; none of them seem to notice the aggressive sexual struggle underway at the painting’s far left. Balthus eschewed stylistic categorization, but The Street was of great interest to Surrealist artists for its rendering of a crowded street as an uncanny site of mental isolation and for its exploration of sexual taboos.


What would this same effect be in a piece of writing? How would an otherwise normal scene with the mention of an aggression in the context of everything else happening around it strike a reader? Would it be shocking, make the reader uncomfortable or would the aggression remain almost unnoticed, blended into the scene as it is in the painting? And in writing, does this tool then become a social commentary on our numbing to this sort of behavior?