Menu

John Currin

John Currin, Bea Arthur Naked, 1991 Oil on canvas, 38 × 32 inches (96.5 × 81.3 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Bea Arthur Naked, 1991

Oil on canvas, 38 × 32 inches (96.5 × 81.3 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, The Neverending Story, 1994 Oil on canvas, 38 × 30 inches (96.5 × 76.2 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, The Neverending Story, 1994

Oil on canvas, 38 × 30 inches (96.5 × 76.2 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, The Kennedys, 1996 Oil on canvas, 36 × 32 inches (91.4 × 81.3 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, The Kennedys, 1996

Oil on canvas, 36 × 32 inches (91.4 × 81.3 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Nude with Raised Arms, 1998 Oil on canvas, 46 × 34 inches (116.8 × 86.4 cm)© John Currin. Photo: Fred Scruton

John Currin, Nude with Raised Arms, 1998

Oil on canvas, 46 × 34 inches (116.8 × 86.4 cm)
© John Currin. Photo: Fred Scruton

John Currin, Stamford After-Brunch, 2000 Oil on canvas, 40 × 60 inches (101.6 × 152.4 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Stamford After-Brunch, 2000

Oil on canvas, 40 × 60 inches (101.6 × 152.4 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, The Clairvoyant, 2001 Oil on canvas, 22 × 16 inches (55.9 × 40.6 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, The Clairvoyant, 2001

Oil on canvas, 22 × 16 inches (55.9 × 40.6 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, The Lobster, 2001 Oil on canvas, 40 × 32 inches (101.6 × 81.3 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, The Lobster, 2001

Oil on canvas, 40 × 32 inches (101.6 × 81.3 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Fishermen, 2002 Oil on canvas, 50 × 41 inches (127 × 104.1 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Fishermen, 2002

Oil on canvas, 50 × 41 inches (127 × 104.1 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Thanksgiving, 2003 Oil on canvas, 68 × 52 inches (172.7 × 132.1 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Thanksgiving, 2003

Oil on canvas, 68 × 52 inches (172.7 × 132.1 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Heritage Hall, 2003–06 Oil on canvas, 38 × 50 inches (96.5 × 127 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Heritage Hall, 2003–06

Oil on canvas, 38 × 50 inches (96.5 × 127 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Sno-bo, 2006 Etching with aquatint on handmade Kochi NB paper, 18 × 14 ½ inches (45.7 × 36.8 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Sno-bo, 2006

Etching with aquatint on handmade Kochi NB paper, 18 × 14 ½ inches (45.7 × 36.8 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Rippowam, 2006 Oil on canvas, 40 × 47 inches (101.6 × 119.4 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Rippowam, 2006

Oil on canvas, 40 × 47 inches (101.6 × 119.4 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, The Old Fur, 2010 Oil on canvas, 50 × 38 inches (127 × 96.5 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, The Old Fur, 2010

Oil on canvas, 50 × 38 inches (127 × 96.5 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Flora Currin, 2011 Oil on canvas, 24 × 18 inches (61 × 45.7 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Flora Currin, 2011

Oil on canvas, 24 × 18 inches (61 × 45.7 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Tapestry, 2013 Oil on canvas, 46 ⅛ × 34 inches (117.2 × 86.4 cm)© John Currin. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Currin, Tapestry, 2013

Oil on canvas, 46 ⅛ × 34 inches (117.2 × 86.4 cm)
© John Currin. Photo: Rob McKeever

John Currin, Untitled, 2013 Charcoal and chalk on paper, 17 ⅞ × 13 ⅞ inches (45.4 × 35.2 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Untitled, 2013

Charcoal and chalk on paper, 17 ⅞ × 13 ⅞ inches (45.4 × 35.2 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, A Fool with Two Young Women, 2013 Oil on canvas, 19 ⅞ × 24 inches (50.5 × 61 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, A Fool with Two Young Women, 2013

Oil on canvas, 19 ⅞ × 24 inches (50.5 × 61 cm)
© John Currin

John Currin, Maenads, 2015 Oil on canvas, 48 × 36 inches (121.9 × 91.4 cm)© John Currin. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

John Currin, Maenads, 2015

Oil on canvas, 48 × 36 inches (121.9 × 91.4 cm)
© John Currin. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio

John Currin, Untitled, 2017 Oil on canvas, 40 × 30 inches (101.6 × 76.2 cm)© John Currin

John Currin, Untitled, 2017

Oil on canvas, 40 × 30 inches (101.6 × 76.2 cm)
© John Currin

About

The one thing I can do is make a fairly convincing fantasy of happiness. It doesn’t mean that I’m happy or the painting isn’t creepy, but good melancholy comes from a thwarted joy, which is another way to describe parenthood, or marriage, or being alive.
—John Currin

John Currin uses classical painterly techniques to portray highly charged social and sexual taboos. With inspirations as diverse as Old Master portraits, pinups, pornography, and B movies, he paints ideational, challengingly perverse images of women, from lusty nymphs to dour matrons. Consistent throughout his work is the search for the point at which the beautiful and the grotesque are held in perfect balance.

As an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University in the early 1980s, Currin painted abstract works in the style of Willem de Kooning, seeking to evoke the nude through visceral, expressive brushstrokes. By the time he went on to pursue his MFA at Yale University, he saw a “forced masculinity” in these early works and realized that they were an “attempt to be a tortured artist.” Reacting against this, he began to explore themes of innocence, humor, and sexuality—creating images of stylized horses, girls with feathered hair, large-headed caricatures, and realistic portraits of individuals and couples. In the early 2000s he went on to produce a series of paintings that combine hard-core pornography with traditional still-life elements, depicting explicit sex acts taking place in decorative interiors.

In 2011–12 Currin’s paintings were shown alongside masterpieces by the Dutch Golden Age painter Cornelis van Haarlem at the Frans Hals Museum in the Netherlands, revealing the historical links between the artists’ treatment of flesh, surface texture, light, and shadow. In the early 2010s Currin worked primarily on depictions of lone female nudes—rather than couples or threesomes—both in lounging, evocative poses and in classical portrait compositions. His wife, the artist Rachel Feinstein, served as Currin’s model for many of these works. Her distinctive classical features continue to make their way into his more recent paintings, in which he subtly distorts the face and body through mannerist elongations and other anatomical exaggerations.

Recently Currin has made the pornographic content of his paintings less explicit, relegating glimpses of sex scenes to the background, or implying eroticism through food or other symbols. While some paintings show blank smiling faces reminiscent of those in department store catalogues, others feature elderly couples seemingly unaware of the random objects perched on their heads. The lighthearted thinking and compositional planning behind these works was revealed in 2017 when Gagosian presented Currin’s drawings at Frieze New York. The career-spanning selection of works exposed the complex networks of historical and pop cultural references, as well as the simple jokes, that come together seamlessly in the artist’s expertly rendered paintings.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

John Currin, Untitled, 2015 © John Currin

Fundraiser

Drawing Center
Benefit Auction + Party 2019

Thursday, September 19, 2019, 6:30–9:30pm
Drawing Center, New York
drawingcenter.org

The Drawing Center’s annual Benefit Auction + Party takes place on Thursday, September 19, with an evening of music and cocktails, and a silent auction featuring works generously donated by over forty leading artists, including Joe Bradley, John Currin, Rudolf Stingel, and Mary Weatherford. Funds raised through this event provide crucial support for the Drawing Center’s ambitious roster of exhibitions, publications, education initiatives, and public programs. To attend the event, purchase tickets at www.drawingcenter.org.

John Currin, Untitled, 2015 © John Currin

John Currin, Hot Pants, 2010 © John Currin

Artist Talk

John Currin
Chatsworth Arts Festival

Saturday, September 21, 2019, 4:15–5:15pm
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England
www.chatsworth.org.uk

John Currin is participating in the Chatsworth Arts Festival, a weekend of culture and performance. He will discuss his practice, including his depictions of his own gender, which are the focus of a new solo exhibition currently on view at Dallas Contemporary. To attend the event, purchase tickets at chatsworth.seetickets.com.

John Currin, Hot Pants, 2010 © John Currin

Georg Baselitz, 5 mal endwärts, 2018 © Georg Baselitz 2019

Art Fair

Taipei Dangdai 2018

January 18–20, 2019, booth D13
Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center
taipeidangdai.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in the inaugural edition of Taipei Dangdai, Taiwan’s first international art fair. Marking the gallery’s first presentation in Taiwan, the booth will include artworks by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Nam June Paik, Sterling Ruby, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and others.

To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at inquire@gagosian.com. To attend the fair, purchase tickets at taipeidangdai.com. To preview our booth, go to artsy.net.

Download the full press release in English (PDF), Simplified Chinese (PDF), or Traditional Chinese (PDF)

Georg Baselitz, 5 mal endwärts, 2018 © Georg Baselitz 2019

See all News for John Currin

Museum Exhibitions

John Currin, Fishermen, 2002 © John Currin

On View

John Currin
My Life as a Man

Through December 22, 2019
Dallas Contemporary
www.dallascontemporary.org

Curated by Alison M. Gingeras, My Life as a Man focuses exclusively on John Currin’s depictions of his own gender, examining provocative depictions of a range of masculine identities over the course of his career. Beginning with works made in 1990, the exhibition aims to critically analyze Currin’s male gaze when it is trained on the identity politics of manhood. The show also features more than fifty works on paper and sketchbook drawings of male figures that have never been publicly exhibited.

John Currin, Fishermen, 2002 © John Currin

Man Ray, Pisces, 1938 ©︎ Man RayTrust. Photo © Tate, London 2018

Closed

Nude
Art from the Tate Collection

March 24–June 24, 2018
Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan
yokohama.art.museum

Journeying through time, from the nineteenth century to the present, this exhibition brings together masterpieces by renowned artists including Francis Bacon, John Currin, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Cindy Sherman. More than one hundred artworks tell the story of the nude and trace artists’ captivation with the human form over the past two centuries. The exhibition has most recently traveled from the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art.

Man Ray, Pisces, 1938 ©︎ Man RayTrust. Photo © Tate, London 2018

Pablo Picasso, Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, 1932, Tate © 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © Tate, London 2017

Closed

NUDE
Masterpieces from the Tate

August 11–December 25, 2017
Seoul Olympic Museum of Art, South Korea
www.britishcouncil.kr

This traveling exhibition brings together masterpieces by renowned artists including Francis Bacon, John Currin, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Cindy Sherman. Beautiful, sensual, and at times provocative, more than one hundred artworks tell the story of the nude and trace artists’ captivation with the human form over the past two centuries.

Pablo Picasso, Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, 1932, Tate © 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © Tate, London 2017

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #97, 1982, Tate © Cindy Sherman. Photo © Tate, London 2017

Closed

The Body Laid Bare
Masterpieces from the Tate

March 18–July 16, 2017
Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand
www.aucklandartgallery.com

Journeying through time, from the classical, biblical, and literary subjects of the nineteenth century to the body politics of contemporary art, this exhibition brings together masterpieces by renowned artists including Francis Bacon, John Currin, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Cindy Sherman. Beautiful, sensual, and at times provocative, more than one hundred artworks tell the story of the nude and trace artists’ captivation with the human form over the past two centuries. The exhibition travels to the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art in South Korea, opening August 11, 2017.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #97, 1982, Tate © Cindy Sherman. Photo © Tate, London 2017

See all Museum Exhibitions for John Currin

Press

See all Press