The Nonchalantdad: Oh Baby!

Marlene Dumas

Some of us over here at Nonchalant Mom are addicted to contemporary art. It's fun and interesting, and like new music, it can keep you fresh and enlivened. And, for Christmas this year my wife commissioned a portrait painting of our kids for me as a gift. So, my interest was raised when the oddly named blog artfagcity did a little piece on the depiction of babies, or small children, in art - by various artists both well known and not. There were some fun images to look at, some uncomfortable, and some just plain strange.

We took a few of our favorites and wanted to share them with you - just for the hell of it. Because it's fun, because it's a little different.... and proof positive that we have our feelers out just about everywhere trying to find all sorts of interesting stuff! Some of it you might like, some of it, I warn you, might make you do a double take. Nonetheless, you're sophisticated enough to find it interesting!

Charles Ray 'Family Romance' 1993

I remember the piece from Charles Ray above from a retrospective of his work at the Whitney a few years ago. This freestanding piece is an even stranger one when you see it in person - stops you in your tracks!

Loretta Lux 'Spring 2001'

The photos of Loretta Lux have always been intriguing to me since I first saw them in a magazine. There is this 'otherworldliness' that just makes them simply beautiful. You can see more of her striking work at the Yossi Milo Gallery. In fact, I always wanted to own one her prints..... I'm just not sure I can afford it now!

Catherine Opie 'Self Portrait Nursing' 2004

Here is one from Catherine Opie that I just saw as part of her show at the Guggenheim. I have to admit that I'm not a great overall fan of her work, but this image is completely natural and without bells and whistles to draw you in - like some of her other stuff. I'm sure this might get you into trouble if you try and post it on Facebook... hah!

Phillipe Parenno

Must admit that I'm not familiar with this artist but really thought that it was a great idea! There are times when I hear the sound of my children in the other room and I expect to turn the corner and see their head this big wailing about something, right? Any parent with a small child having a tantrum can relate to this scale!

Keith Haring 'Radiating Baby'

This image is the most familiar of all - and the simplest. But, compared to alot of other graffiti
I see, Keith Haring does much without much! And, by this point, his work has become very nostalgic for a New York City of the 1980's. Deitch Projects in association with the Haring Foundation and Goldman Properties recreated a mural of his from the early 80's on the corner of Houston and Bowery in NYC - fun and colorful, just what you'd expect. And, with many young people mining the trends of the 80's right now, it is fun to see an original. You can see the mural
here, but I think its term is now ended (I understand that they are going to recreate another one on the same spot).

Davy Lauterbach 'Dustin'

And, I just had to add this painting from Davy Lauterbach.
I saw his work in a group show called 'SuperPower' down near Chinatown two or so years ago - he had this thing for taking everyday photos that might have been shot at a Sears Department Store, circa 1978 for example, and altering or accentuating a detail or two until the painting looked very odd. You didn't know if you could laugh or not in many cases. Davy used to work on the team that created the Simpsons Cartoon and this is stuff he did himself for himself...... you see what happens when you've worked on the Simpsons! You can see more of his work at the Scope Art Fair this March in NYC - I understand he will be showing more paintings with a gallery called dFAULKEN. You can hunt down the gallery's booth if you're in town then and find yourself at the fair.

Ron Mueck 'Baby'

Ron Mueck's work is always compelling - primarily because his 'sculptures' are so life-like right down to a strand of hair. I first came upon his work when that big controversial show came to NYC a while ago now at the Brooklyn Museum (you remember Mayor Giuliani threatened the museum over another piece of work in that same show?) - the one featuring new work from the UK. Anyway, all the hype and attention was going to some of the other artists in that show, but Ron Mueck's work really stood out for me. It really does make you consider things differently when you come across a newborn fully out of context and scale size! You might think twice if you commissioned him to create your children's portrait! But, in it's way, his work is frighteningly beautiful.

Of course, there's a whole history of art devoted to the lovely little plump cherubs. But, this is something a little different than that..... maybe I should have made that clearer at the beginning! oops.