John Currin, Nude with Raised Arms, 1998, oil on canvas, 46 × 34 inches (116.8 × 86.4 cm) © John Currin. Photo by Fred Scruton
John Currin’s ambitious paintings seduce, repel, surprise, and puzzle. His masterful technique is achieved through the scrutiny and emulation of the compositional devices, graphic rhythms, and refined surfaces of sixteenth and seventeenth century Northern European painting, while his eroticized subjects exist at odds with the popular dialogue and politics of contemporary art. With inspirations as diverse as Old Master portraits, pin-ups, pornography, and B-movies, Currin paints ideational yet challengingly perverse images of women, from lusty nymphs and dour matrons to more ethereal feminine prototypes. Consistent throughout his oeuvre is his search for the point at which the beautiful and the grotesque are held in perfect balance.
John Currin was born in 1962 in Boulder, Colorado. He received his B.F.A. in 1984 from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, and his M.F.A. in 1986 from Yale University, Connecticut. Recent solo exhibitions include Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain, France (1995); Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1995); “Works on Paper,” Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (2003, traveled to the Aspen Art Museum, Colorado); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2003, traveled to Serpentine Gallery, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, through 2004); DHC/ART, Montreal (2011); “John Currin meets Cornelis van Haarlem,” Frans Hals Museum, The Netherlands (2011–12); and Museo Stefano Bardini, Florence (2016).
Currin’s work is represented in museum collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Tate Collection, London; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Currin currently lives and works in New York.