John Currin

United States 1962

Pop Art, Post-impressionism

John Currin
John Currin
United States
September 15, 2016
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Due to their unique aesthetics, John Currin‘s paintings can be found at the crossroads where old masters of painting techniques and 20th-century kitsch collide into a single blend. His figurative compositions mix humor with traditional painterly skills, earning Currin many comparisons with artists ranging from Breugel to Rockwell. The satirical way John is able to tackle his topics makes him rather characteristic and recognizable, especially when you include the provocative and sexual nature of his pieces. Regularly combining such notions with the technically skillful manner he displayed over the years, it becomes easy to see why many consider Currin to be one of the most uncommon and remarkable painters of the contemporary age.

American expresionism oil works are a nice sign of news within art and the search for new ways, but they do fall under privacy press rules so copywriting is a problem which one does not like
John Currin – Lake Place, 2012 (Left) / Thanksgiving, 2003 (Right) – Images via and

Rise to Fame

John Currin was born in the town of Boulder in Colorado, during the year of 1962, but he spent his childhood in Connecticut. He was a son of a physics professor from this southern New England state, whilst his other parent had a career of a piano teacher with roots in California. Early in his life, John would spend his days studying painting and different techniques with the traditionally trained Russian artist Lev Meshberg, a renowned painter from Odessa, Ukraine. Eventually, Currin managed to get himself enrolled with the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where he obtained a BFA in 1984. Representing the crown of his educational endeavors, John received an MFA from Yale University in 1986. Three years later, Currin exhibited a series of portraits derived from the photographs of young girls he found in a high school yearbook. This show was held at the White Columns in New York City and it was the first evidence of how John had intentions to emancipate his art from traditionally clichéd subjects without compromising his classical visuals. What makes his chosen topics even more surprising is the fact the early 1990s and a few years before that decade were marked with political-themed art and there simply were not many fresh alternatives on the scene. In a time when everyone was either searching for or producing pieces underlined by a strong political note, Currin chose to depict brazen depictions of busty young women, mustachioed men and asexual divorcés. This bold decision to be involved with something very different than what is currently popular became only more impressive when the audiences noticed how techniques talented this artist is. Interestingly enough, Currin explained that his distorted or exaggerated subjects were oftentimes representations of his own reflection and inner life rather than depictions of other, real individuals.

Currin explained that most of his subjects are reflections of his own inner life rather than depictions of real life individuals

The search for privacy press documents is a great way of getting news on oil-like works with the artist's sign
John Currin – Girl in Bed – Image via

Inspirations Behind His Art

John Currin’s work is obviously inspired by a wide range of classical influences, with sources as diverse as the Renaissance, Post -Impresionism and Pop art. Additionally, the kitsch note that makes his pieces so unique are found in popular culture magazines and contemporary fashion scene – John relies heavily on magazines such as Cosmopolitan and older issues of Playboy for inspiration which he channels through his paintings[1]. By the late 1990s, Currin’s ability to paint subjects of kitsch with an impressive technical facility was met with critical and financial success – since 2003, his paintings have often found themselves withing the category of high six figures pricing. Logically, this reflected heavily on Currin’s popularity and interest in his work. He has been a part of numerous solo and group shows, with his pieces included in permanent collections within the walls of the Hirshhorn Museum and the Tate Gallery. Additionally, retrospective exhibitions of John’s career were held at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In the year of 1994, Currin met a fellow artist Rachel Feinstein at a gallery in which she was conducting her performance piece by living in a self-made gingerbread house. The two got engaged mere weeks later at Currin’s show in Paris and married three years later on Valentine’s Day. In his more recent career, Currin has undertaken a new kind of series where his figure paintings deal with unabashedly pornographic themes. The motto behind these fresher projects remained similar to past creative goals that fueled John’s art from the past. In order to explain the idea behind these provocative series, Currin stated the following: One motive of mine is to see if I could make this clearly debased and unbeautiful thing become beautiful in a painting.

A strong provocative note is a common feature in most of Currin’s paintings

Contact any NYC American gallery to get Currin's works of famous women
John Currin – The Bra Shop (Left) / Hot Pants, 2010 (Right) – Images via and

Brave and Unique Art of Currin

When one investigates both the art and career of John Currin, two things are capable of striking the most. First is the timing and the boldness behind it – John started to paint original and unique artworks in a time when no one was doing nothing even closely similar. Furthermore, the special mixture of elements behind Currin’s art is one of the most interesting blends modern history has to offer – combining technical skills of old masters with the culture of the late 20th century makes sure John’s final pieces are unrivaled on more than one front. Perhaps the best way of ending this short biography is to quote Calvin Tomkins[2] who explained Currin’s art in one of his books with the following statement: His technical skills, which include elements of Old Master paint application and high-Mannerist composition, have been put to use on some of the most seductive and rivetingly weird figure paintings of our era.

This artist is represented by Gagosian Park & 75 New York, Gagosian West 24th Street New York, Gagosian Beverly Hills, Gagosian Britannia Street London, Gagosian West 21st Street New York and Sadie Coles HQ in London.

John Currin lives and works in New York, United States.


  1. Calvin, T., Lifting the Veil: Old Masters, pornography, and the work of John Currin, The New Yorker, January 28, 2008
  2. Calvin, T., The Lives of the Artists, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2008

Featured image: John Currin – Photo of the artist – Image via
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016John Currin - Face To Face To Face Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, ZurichSolo
2016Les Fleurs Du MalNahmad Contemporary, New York City, NYGroup
2015John CurrinGagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CASolo
2015Summer Group ShowGagosian Gallery , New York City, NYGroup
2015Intimate PaintingHalf Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2015As Is IsAltman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2015America Is Hard to SeeWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
2015Sleepless - The Bed in history and contemporary Art21er Haus, ViennaGroup
2014SheList Art Center - Brown University, Providence, RIGroup
20141 + 1 = 1 : When Collections Collide The Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsGroup
2013John CurrinGagosian Gallery, ParisSolo
2013Freedom Not Genius - Works From Damien Hirst's CollectionMAMM - Multimedia Art Museum, MoscowGroup
2013I, You, WeWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
2013Le Grand Tout - 30 ans du Frac LimousinFRAC - Limousin, LimogesGroup
2012John CurrinSadie Coles HQ, LondonSolo
2012Don't Be Shy, Don't Hold BackSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
2012Group exhibit (gallery2) Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2011Pop-Up!Gagosian Group
2010Crash Homage to JG BallardUnknownGroup
2010John Currin New PaintingsUnknownGroup
2008John Currin Sadie Coles HQ, London (England)Group
2008Old School Zwirner & Wirth, New York City, NYGroup
2008What Is Painting? - Contemporary Art from the Collection MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
2006John Currin Gagosian Gallery - Madison Avenue, New York City, NYGroup
2004SITE Santa Fe BiennialSanta Fe, NM, Group
2004Now is a Good Time New York, Andrea Rosen Gallery.Group
2003John CurrinNew York, Whitney Museum, Solo
2003John CurrinLondon Serpentine Gallery, Solo
2003John CurrinChicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Solo
2003Les 20 ans des FRACParis, FRAC, Group
2003Lieber Maler, male mir... Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt.Group
2000John CurrinNew York, Whitney Museum, Solo
2000UntitledNew York, Cheim & Read GallerySolo
2000UntitledNew York, C & M Arts Solo
1999UntitledRegen Projects,Los AngelesSolo
1999UntitledNew York, Andrea Rosen Gallery Solo
1998Young Americans 2: New American ArtLondon, Saatchi Gallery Group
1997UntitledLondon, Tate Gallery Solo
1997UntitledNew York, Whitney Museum of American ArtSolo
1997UntitledNew York, Andrea Rosen GallerySolo
1997Projects 60: John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton, Luc TuymansNew York, Museum of Modern Art Group
1996UntitledLos Angeles, Regen Projects Solo
1995UntitledLondon, ICA Solo
1995Limoges Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain du Limousin Solo
1995UntitledNew York, Andrea Rosen Gallery Solo
1994UntitledNew York, Andrea Rosen Gallery Solo
1993UntitledBiennale de Venise, ItalyGroup
1992UntitledNew York, Andrea Rosen Gallery Solo
1989UntitledNew York, White Columns, (downton alternative space) Solo
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