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Artists John Currin
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John Currin

American Painter

Born: 1962 - Boulder, Colorado

John Currin Timeline

Quotes

"The mystique of painting is both very macho and of course as elegant as bubble bath - it can be as luxuriating as you care to be. The studio really is my boudoir; that's something I've always cherished about painting."
John Currin
"As soon as I could think rationally about it, I wanted to be an artist. I guess I thought I was gonna be an illustrator or something, because I didn't really know that art still existed. I think I had this idea that it had kind of turned into naked hippies hangin' out in their lofts."
John Currin
"I got my macho painting out of my way in art school. It wasn't me. I feel like I am one of the only feminine male artists, that I am the only one who cares about things being pretty, about elegance and other feminine qualities."
John Currin
"Often, I find myself attracted to ideas that are ill-advised and bad. It's not because I want to shock people or show how open-minded I am, but for some reason stupidity is a theme for me in painting and I find it liberating."
John Currin
"I've always felt insecure about being a figurative artist, and about being an American painter. To me, oil painting is inherently European. My technique is in no way comparable with that of a mid-level European painter of the 19th century. They had way more ability and technical assurance. It's like learning to play tennis when you're four or five years old - you know things you don't even know you know."
John Currin

"I find I can't get rid of my trashiness as an artist."

John Currin Signature

Synopsis

Since the 1990s, John Currin has reigned as one of the art world's greatest provocateurs residing on the double-edged sword of desire and disgust. His work, which mingles an early training in classical painting with a decidedly American palate for the absurdity found in kitsch, presents figurative portraits, often nude, that reflect the perversity within our culture's obsession with beauty and perfection. Although he is often accused of misogynistic tendencies due to his jarring subject matter, he contends his presentations are intended as satirical references to society's ever-present barrage of the elusive "ideal" fed to us through art history, media, advertising, and the glossy pages of magazines. This exploration into vanity continues to inform his work today.

Key Ideas

By combining classical tropes of beauty, such as the lounging Renaissance nude, with contemporary images such as those found in today's porn and women's fashion magazines, Currin posits that our fascination with vanity is eternal.
Upon first glance, Currin's paintings may seem like realistic figurative portrayals of the beautiful, yet upon closer inspection something goes awry. A body part emerges larger than its otherwise symmetrical parts, the neck on a graceful vixen might stretch inordinately long, or the female nude central to our observation turns out to be old enough to be our grandmother. The pleasure of voyeurism turns into discomfort and we are asked to reflect upon the original motivations within our glance.
Currin's use of thick brushstrokes on a face amongst an otherwise smooth plane or darker shades within a paler sea of flesh hint at the underlying morbidity expressed through our desire for perfection.

Biography

John Currin Photo

Childhood

Currin was born in Colorado to a physics professor father and piano teacher mother, the third of four children. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Northern California, first settling in Palo Alto, and later, Santa Cruz. They finally moved to Connecticut when he was ten.

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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
John Currin
Interactive chart with John Currin's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Francis BaconFrancis Bacon
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Norman RockwellNorman Rockwell

Personal Contacts

Rachel FeinsteinRachel Feinstein

Movements

RenaissanceRenaissance
MannerismMannerism
RealismRealism

Influences on Artist
John Currin
John Currin
Years Worked: 1989 - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Cindy ShermanCindy Sherman
Lisa YuskavageLisa Yuskavage

Personal Contacts

Marc JacobsMarc Jacobs
Francesco ClementeFrancesco Clemente
Sofia CoppolaSofia Coppola
Dave EggersDave Eggers

Movements

Neo-ExpressionismNeo-Expressionism

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Content compiled and written by Jen Glennon

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Jen Glennon
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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