May 30 – July 12, 2024

Opening reception:
Thursday, May 30, 2024
6 – 8 PM

CLAMP is pleased to present The Three Ages of Man, an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by James Childs (1945-2020).

The three ages of man is an allegorical theme that became popular in Renaissance art, especially in Venice. It depicts the life cycle in stages including childhood, manhood, and old age. Famous examples can be found in paintings by Giorgione and Titian.

James Childs, born in North Dakota in 1945, expressed interest in the arts at a young age and received a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1970. In 1971, he began studying at Atelier Lack in Minneapolis with Richard F. Lack, where he continued to craft his skills as an artist until 1975. Equally as influential on Childs was the time he spent in the summers of 1971-1973 studying imaginative painting in Massachusetts with Robert Hale Ives Gammell. Childs is viewed as a member of the Gammellites, the artists who followed in Robert Gammell’s footsteps. In 1974, Childs traveled to Europe to study classical and academic painters, which further influenced his artistic output.

Creating numerous studies on paper and on canvas, Childs completed his version of “The Three Ages of Man” in 1986. Clearly classical in theme and design, the artwork nonetheless reflects the time period in which it was painted. The handsome figure representing manhood is a model of his times, and the natural elements of the composition including the background landscape and large still life at the left represent an artistic realism of the 1980s. That being said, Childs’s painting style is all his own, and his allusions to the art of ancient Greece and the Italian Renaissance blended with a contemporary sensibility persisted throughout the course of his long career.

Above all else, James Childs was an expert draftsman as particularly evidenced by his sensitive and meticulous graphite drawings, many of which are included in the exhibition. While also successful as a painter of commissioned portraits, the artist devoted much of his own time to the depiction of the male figure in particular, whether in straightforward compositions in contemporary dress or part of allegorical scenes rich with historic references and poetic allusions.

During his lifetime James Childs exhibited work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Tatistcheff and Company in New York. In 1996, he exhibited and worked at the Leighton House Museum in London, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of Frederic Leighton’s death. And, in 2004, a sixteen-foot frieze by Childs was displayed in the galleries of The Cultural Organization of the City of Athens during the Olympic games, and traveled to the galleries of Forbes, Inc. in New York. The frieze was on public display again in 2012 at the Leighton House Museum during the London games.

James Child’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Blanden Art Museum, Fort Dodge, Iowa; Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico; and Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota.

Press Releases