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, Limousin, France (1995); Institute of Contemporary Art, London (1995); “New Work 7: John Currin, Works on Paper,” The Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2003); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2003, traveled to The Serpentine Gallery, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York); “John Currin meets Cornelis van Haarlem,” Frans Hals Museum, The Netherlands (2011); and Museo Stefano Bardini, Florence (2016). Recent group exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna (2008); Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Germany (2008); Le Consortium Dijon, France (2012); New Museum, New York (2013); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2015); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015).
Currin currently lives and works in New York.