At the November 4 opening reception for Philip Pearlstein’s current show at Betty Cuningham Gallery, artist model Candace Mills was able to show off her painted self to assembled friends and pose once again, this time for the camera and in front of her immortalized double.
By the weekend, however, her naked simulacrum was not so easy to see as the painting had been pulled from the show and replaced by another. This writer had to request a private audience with Model with Choohoo Weathervane and African Chair, 2010, now consigned to the gallery racks. The explanation given was that collectors from out of town needed to see hung the replacement work but that the one featuring Mills would soon be back in its rightful place.
The original hang was not restored the following weekend, however, and soon a new explanation emerged. Visitor-friends of the model had been asking to see “Candace naked.” This, according to Pearlstein, was “the wrong phrase to use” with his dealer and her staff, lowering the tone of the exhibition in their eyes. When asked if he was saddened to see his depiction of Mills removed the artist expressed indifference because the work that replaced it is also of merit. “I like all my paintings equally,” he told me.
The response of Mills, however, has been a little less laconic. She has posted the following to her Facebook page: “just learned that the gallery took down the painting I’m in because too many people were coming by and asking about the “naked Candace” painting. Thanks, dudes. Way to be classy. You want to look- BUY IT!” Mills is a professional artist model whose clients have included Paul Resika, Sallie Benton, Duncan Hannah, Mari Lyons, Ariane Lopez-Huici, Alex Katz, Will Cotton and Inka Essenhigh.
Pearlstein points out, in the meantime, that the painting will be included in a show in Paris and that Mills will feature in his next work, also destined for Paris, a double figure composition, which is coming along somewhat slowly, he laments.
His exhibition at Betty Cuningham, with or without the “naked Candace,” continues through December 18.print