BERNARD CHILDS: COSMIC SENSE
Jason McCoy Gallery is pleased to present Cosmic Sense, an Online Exclusive Exhibition featuring a selection of 1970s paintings by Bernard Childs (1910–1985).
As a quartermaster aboard a destroyer escort in the South Pacific during WWII, Childs spent two years at sea observing the stars and planets. He plotted the ship’s course in a war that would culminate with the birth of the nuclear age and a never-before-seen threat to the entire planet. Over the following years, he developed a strong interest in all environmental issues and his works began to translate as meditations on distant worlds and ancient forms of life, such as insects, which served as his symbols of survival.
In addition, Childs closely followed all scientific developments of the day, including outer space exploration, which led him to consider the possible catastrophic destruction of our planet. In the 1970s, these concerns prompted a series of paintings in which light and color are employed to evoke a post-apocalyptic cosmic landscape. However, in contrast to their severe thematic through line, these celestial arrangements appear tranquil, inviting, and even hypnotic. Featuring vibrant spherical forms, their poetic imagery emanates a warm pastel glow within a spectrum of their own radiating light, generating a sense of translucent depth.
The characteristically luminous palette of these paintings was inspired by a particular event. In June 1970, Childs spent a week in Stockholm where he was captivated by the Swedish Midsummer light. For the next seven years, he would develop a body of work that revolved around the survival of the planet, living and dying suns, insect and vegetable life, and the formal qualities of color and light.
Born in Brooklyn in 1910, Bernard Childs traveled extensively wherever his work took him. He studied in New York with Nicolaides and Amédée Ozenfant, and at Atelier 17 in Paris where he settled in 1952 and quickly began exhibiting as a member of an international vanguard. From 1966 to 1977 Childs commuted between his studios in Paris and New York. After a stroke in 1978, he remained in New York painting and drawing in his Chelsea Hotel studio until his death in 1985 at age 74. Childs’ work is held in many museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and both the Moderna Museet and The National Portrait Gallery in Stockholm.