16 December, 2006

John Currin

"he paints what he likes to paint, even if it means weathering accusations of misogyny, sexism, ageism, and homophobia"

Take one look at John Currin's paintings and you could assume he likes stupid women with big tits. Pouting, wide-eyed ing�nues look vacantly out of his canvases while ladies in mini-skirts measure each other's immense breasts. There is nothing politically correct here.

Currin, who had recently completed his M.F.A. at Yale University, was living in Hoboken, N.J., and trying to figure out how to break into the New York art world. As he tells it, he realized that the best way to stand out from the crowd of aspiring young artists was to do the thing nobody else was doing. So, he started making modest, easel-sized paintings, mostly portraits of young women loosely based on high-school yearbook photographs. "You get a lot of attention if you just play it straight," he said recently

Currin is also a masterful provocateur. For his first solo show at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in 1992, he presented a group of acerbic fantasy portraits of aging Park Avenue doyennes rendered in a pared-down, linear style that did the job without calling too much attention to itself. In the press release, Currin described them as

"paintings of old women at the end of their cycle of sexual potential … between the object of desire and the object of loathing"

—a deliberately sexist barb aimed at the "politically correct" art establishment. ("I meant it to sound mean. And I meant it to sound harsh," he later admitted.)

"You want sexism? I'll give you sexism!" A few years later he presented an instantly notorious group of paintings of women with basketball-sized breasts and faces done in craggy impasto acting out various soft-porn scenarios. Crass jokes rendered in oil on canvas, they are ostentatiously "bad paintings" done in the defiantly ironic mode of high-concept kitsch.

In the last few years, a painting by Currin has become the trophy of choice in Westchester living rooms, sending auction prices through the roof. (Last spring at Sotheby's, a work from 1995 sold for an astounding $427,500.)


Currin shifted away from the jokey, lowbrow subjects of his earlier work and toward a chaster rehashing of the Great Tradition.

Since 2000 highlights contemporary printmaking and the various ways in which artists have recently engaged and expanded upon the medium.

Since 2000: Printmaking Now
Kurator: Judy Hecker

mit Sarah Morris, Andrea Zittel, John Currin, Matthew Barney, William Kentridge, Richard Tuttle, Elizabeth Peyton, Paul Chan, Kelley Walker, John Armleder, Swoon , Nicola Lopez


Its not clear why Currin would be included in a printmaking survey show.

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