NEW YORK CITY – Christie’s has recently come under fire after word spread that the famed auction house has been selling “disturbing” artwork on their website consisting of grotesque mannequins depicting unclothed children – some conjoined – with their facial features and other parts of their anatomy replaced by adult genitalia.
The sculptures in question were designed and created by controversial British visual artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, whose subject matter tries to be deliberately shocking; for example, they released a series of works in 2008 that appropriated original watercolors by Adolf Hitler.
But despite the recent furor over the Chapman Brothers’ explicit, child-themed mannequins – the two recently announced that they were ending their professional collaboration amid internal strife – Christie’s has been consistently selling their work for over 20 years, fetching prices over time ranging from as little as hundreds of dollars to over $500,000.
One of their works – sold in 2001 for over $1,300 – consisted of a VHS tape of a pornographic movie featuring women having sex with a severed mannequin head.
Christie’s Auction House is owned by François-Henri Pinault – husband of actress Selma Hayek – who is also the CEO of Kering, the parent company of Balenciaga, a fashion brand that also drew intensely negative coverage recently for an advertising campaign depicting children holding teddy bear handbags that were dressed in explicit sexual bondage gear.
The recent developments regarding Christie’s and Balenciaga have renewed discussions about the sexualization of children in artwork and advertising, with users on social media slamming Christie’s sale of the Chapman Brothers’ work as “disturbing.”
“Warning! Disturbing Images! François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Balenciaga’s parent company owns an auction site selling child sex mannequins with erect penises, vaginas, and anuses instead of mouths or noses,” one user said.
“Very ill and yeah, disturbing,” another user stated.