Last night, in the ninth Annenberg lecture series, John Currin spoke to the Chief Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Donna De Salvo. It was a full house–an audience eager to listen and laugh with the artist. Topics ranged from Currin’s early works (abstraction in the NY Style of painting) to his leap to figuration and portraiture.
As the discussion moved along from one painting to the next, the artist’s masterful technique of creating portraits was explained as a vehicle for painting. Currin’s work expresses forms that sustain a static and passive quality that can be deemed as beautiful, but that description often belies a deeper lyrical and emotional subtext.
Currin spoke of his inspirations being culled from extremes, ranging from glimpses of 16th and 17th century Northern European paintings to images from contemporary advertising and online sources. His love of the German expressionists Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and Ernst Kirchner are often referenced.
John Currin New Paintings is currently on view at Gagosian Gallery, Paris, through December 21, 2013.