I’ve been reading about Precious, a new show of paintings by Delia Brown now on view at her gallery in New York. In these paintings, beautiful, thirty-something women relax in opulent interiors with their lovely children – the light is beautiful, the babies are rosy-cheeked. Brown’s child-free friends and the artist herself are the models for these mothers – none are actually parents.
I think these paintings really nail what I call “ aspirational motherhood,” a state reflected in Babble’s obsession with celebrity babies, and Cookie Magazine’s pursuit of all baby things beautiful – and expensive. Posing non-mothers with borrowed kids in luxurious surroundings says something about the fantasy and desire around motherhood.
But – there’s always room for beauty and luxury in the art world. And this particular version of motherhood works in part because the subjects aren’t really mothers, they just play them in the painting. Right now my kids are running laps around the dining room table, making loud annoying noises. Not so ideal. How does that fit in the art world?