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b. 1962, United States

John Currin Biography

Considered one of the most recognised contemporary painters, John Currin is known for his provocative and often highly sexualised figurative oil paintings.

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Life

John Currin was born in Boulder, Colorado and grew up in Connecticut. In 1984, he earned a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and two years later, an MFA from Yale University.

Begun in the late 1980s, Currin's first significant body of work was 'Yearbook Paintings' (1989—1990), a series of sexualised portraits adapted from high school yearbook photographs. The salacious nature of the work was heightened by the fact that, at the time, figurative painting was deemed unfashionable and even rebellious. In time, however, Currin became credited with sparking a renewed interest in contemporary figurative and portrait painting.

Artworks

Drawing from Danish pornography, Northern Renaissance painting, pin-ups, and contemporary magazines, John Currin's works are a unique confluence of influences, which in combination tend toward the satirical in their brazen disruption of low-and high-brow hierarchies. His works are recognisable for their distinctive style and borrowing from classical painting techniques such as blended oils, soft edges, muted backgrounds, traditional compositions, and natural lighting.

Figures in Currin's works often have blushing skin, voluptuous curves, large eyes, long necks, narrow chins, and the flowing hair typical of the figures in classical European art. The treatment of bodies is deliberatively erotic; The Bra Shop (1997), for example, depicts two heavily made-up women measuring one another's exaggerated breasts, while The Red Shoe (2016) shows a smiling woman in a transparent blouse, balancing a baguette and pitcher atop her coiffed head.

Not all Currin's works are sexualised, however; Currin also often paints his children as well as his wife, the artist Rachel Feinstein. One of his most iconic works, Rachel in Fur (2002), depicts Feinstein in a soft coat and oversized sunglasses, looking downwards with a demure smile.

Exhibitions

Since the early 2000s, John Currin's work has been shown in major galleries and institutions around the world. In 2019, Currin mounted the exhibition My Life as a Man at Dallas Contemporary. In contrast with the majority of his work, the show was comprised mostly of paintings of men.

Other major institutional exhibitions have included John Currin: Works on Paper, Des Moines Art Center (2003); and John Currin, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, travelled to Serpentine Gallery, London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003). Currin's works are in the collections of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Tate Collection, London; and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Exhibitions on Ocula include John Currin (2020) at Gagosian, and Memorial at Gagosian, New York (2021).

Art Market

Recognised as one of the foremost living American painters, Currin's works fetch high prices in market. In 2013, the painting Bea Arthur Naked (1991) made headlines when it sold at a Christie's auction for US $1.9 million.

Gallery

On Ocula, the artist is represented by Gagosian, Gary Tatintsian Gallery, and Sadies Coles HQ.

Elliat Albrecht | Ocula | 2021

John Currin
featured artworks

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Newspaper Couple by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin Newspaper Couple, 2016 Etching with aquatint on Handmade Kochi NB paper
28.6 x 22.9 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
The Dreamers by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin The Dreamers, 2016 Etching with aquatint on Handmade Kochi NB paper
29.2 x 31.1 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Happy Housepainters by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin Happy Housepainters, 2016 Etching with aquatint on Handmade Kochi NB paper
12.5 x 10 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
The Europeans by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin The Europeans, 2016 Etching with aquatint on Handmade Kochi NB paper
13.5 x 10 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Pistachio by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin Pistachio, 2016 Etching with aquatint on Handmade Kochi NB paper
10.5 x 9 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Turbanetta by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin Turbanetta, 2016 Etching with mezzotint and aquatint on Gampi Paper laid on Handmade Kochi NB paper
7.5 x 7 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Little Nude by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin Little Nude, 2011 Etching on Handmade Kochi NB paper
29.5 x 25.4 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Gloria by John Currin contemporary artwork painting, print
John Currin Gloria, 2011 Etching on Handmade Kochi NB paper
29.5 x 25.4 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
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John Currin
recent exhibitions

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Represented by these
Ocula Member Galleries

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, United States
Gagosian Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris +6
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John Currin in
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