Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review of Mademoiselle K

I saw this wonderful review of my painting, "Mademoiselle K", as part of the critical review of the Spring Salon and had to share it--

Casey Childs, Mademoiselle K (2009), Oil on canvas

"It is a shame this painting does not stir any controversy. Its great-great
grandmother, Madame X (1884), was considered so indecent that John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) had to move his career from Paris to London.
I hope that Casey Childs never leaves us. But, I long for the time when so much is at stake in art that we want to drive an artist out or carry him on our shoulders. One hundred and twenty years ago, Childs would have been a great deal of trouble. First, this Mademoiselle suffers from the same indecency that Madame X did, namely, the strap of her clothing has fallen off the shoulder. To nineteenth century Parisians, this was akin to pornography, suggesting to the mind a woman being undressed. Today, it is merely casual, even emo. Unknown to contemporary audiences, the cat only accentuates her immorality. Édouard Manet (1832-1883) famously used a black cat in his work Olympia (1863) to indicate that his model was a prostitute.
I am not suggesting that Mademoiselle K is indecent. (For all I know, she is an upstanding young woman: a straight-A Sterling Scholar and president of the local Virgin Lips chapter.) But, I am suggesting that art has not only a tradition of techniques and materials–of which Childs has a masterful command–but art also has a rich tradition of an educated audience who understood imagery and symbolism.
Obviously, Childs knows these things; but, how many members of his audience will? How much more do we, as lovers of art, need to understand in order to really love art? This is, for me, one of the great works of this Salon; a reminder that both artists and the audience stand on the shoulders of giants, who we must acknowledge and study in order to appreciate what we have and to demand more of it.
---M. C."

This is an excerpt from a special critical review written by two art historians, Micah Christensen (also a juror of the Spring Salon) and Philipp Malzl, PhD. They reviewed a selection of pieces from the Salon, which can be read at They are also posting a couple of entries per day onto a website, open for comments and discussion. Their website is: Many thanks to Mr. Christensen for his thoughtful and insightful review of my painting.

The 86th annual Spring Salon ends July 3, so hurry and see it!


Anonymous said...

That's quite a review- I wonder how the subject feels. How about a few comments from her as a follow up?

Christina said...

I love this review!

Christina said...

Also, the reviewer is apparently not aware of the Sargent-ian controversy this painting aroused at the local pizzeria:)