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John Currin (born 1962) is an
American painter. His work shows a wide range of influences, including
sources as diverse as the Renaissance, popular culture magazines, and
contemporary fashion models.
Currin was born in Boulder, Colorado, and grew up in Connecticut, where
he studied painting privately with a renowned traditionally trained
artist from Odessa, Ukraine, Lev Meshberg. He went to Carnegie Mellon
University in Pittsburgh, where he obtained a BFA in 1984, and received
a MFA from Yale University in 1986.
In New York City in 1989 he exhibited a series of portraits of young
girls derived from the photographs in a high school yearbook, and
initiated his efforts to distill art from traditionally clichéd
subjects. In the 1990s, when political themed art works were favored,
Currin brazenly used bold depictions of busty young women, mustachioed
men and asexual divorcés, setting him apart from the rest. He used
magazines like Cosmopolitan along with old issues of Playboy for
inspiration for his paintings. Nonetheless, by the late 1990s Currin's ability to
paint subjects of kitsch with technical facility met with critical and
financial success, and by 2003 his paintings were selling "for prices in
the high six figures". More recently, he has undertaken a series of
figure paintings dealing with unabashedly pornographic themes. He has
had retrospective exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and
the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and is represented in the
permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and
the Tate Gallery.
Currin is based in New York City, where he lives with his wife and
fellow artist, Rachel Feinstein.