Purple Magazine
— S/S 2017 issue 27

To paint is to love again

All artworks copyright John Currin, courtesy of Gagosian

More than 20 years ago, at a time when art critics were proclaiming the death of painting, John Currin’s technically astounding, exaggeratedly realistic figurative oil paintings rattled the cage of the contemporary art world. Coming out of the blue, this young painter brought to mind the way Francis Picabia pivoted from Cubism and Surrealism to painting pinups, which garishly transgressed any resemblance to the academic nude. He not only changed minds about painting, but also unabashedly brought it back.

John Currin paints women — sexy, confident, often saucy, slightly distorted women, who displayed themselves without flirting for approval. Robert Crumb meets Jacopo Pontormo. They are as voluptuous as a Fragonard, as detailed as a Hans Memling, and as airy and in-your-face as a photo-portrait by Thomas Ruff. Currin paints the kind of hyper-effusive breasts seen only on a radical porn site, but whose possessors display them the way a hot-rodder might show off his customized car.

You can’t say his work is feminist, yet he honors his subjects with the delicate care of a master painter gifted with the kind of chops people hadn’t seen from any contemporary artist.

Currin portrays the irony of situation comedy, while never positioning himself above his subjects — who aren’t so much surreal as elegantly, humorously mannered characters from our own wacky world.

— Jeff Rian

[Table of contents]

S/S 2017 issue 27

Table of contents

purple NEWS

purple BEST OF THE SEASON

purple INTERVIEW

purple FASHION WOMEN

purple FASHION MEN

purple DOCUMENT

purple ARCHITECTURE

purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE

purple SEX

purple TRAVEL

purple PHILOSOPHY

purple STORY

purple VISUAL ESSAY

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