American-born conceptual artist John Currin hails from Colorado, but his works have been displayed throughout the world. Born in 1962, John Currin enjoyed a formal education at Yale University and Carnegie Mellon University, but he is also a highly accomplished artist who is best known for his contemporary paintings.
John Currin is currently living in New York City, where he is an integral part of the art scene. As an artist, John Currin is best known for his unique and highly provocative paintings, works that often make use of highly charged sexual scenes and unusual social situations. Despite the provocative nature of his work, his finished paintings are technically skilled and even beautiful.
Throughout his long career, John Currin has cited a wide variety of influences and artistic resources, including artists from the Renaissance period, fellow contemporary and modern artists and even fashion magazines.
At first glance, that reliance on fashion magazines for inspiration may seem a bit odd, but not when you take a deeper look at his work. Indeed, the works of John Currin often use exaggerated and distorted female forms and other erotic representations. Even so, John Currin has often stated that the forms he paints are actually representations of himself and not some idealized erotic female form.
John Currin may be a thoroughly modern artist, and he certainly uses contemporary subject material, but he is at heart a very technical artist. The influence of old Renaissance masters is as clear as his reliance on the inspiration of fashion magazines, and his technical skill comes through again and again.
From his highly skilled use of light and shadow to his choice of colors, it is clear that John Currin is a truly technical painter, drawing on the masters of his craft while taking them in a whole new direction. Throughout it all, John Currin has created provocative works of modern art, drawing truly weird figures and making a name for himself in the world of 21st century art.
John Currin was born in the city of Boulder, Colorado, but he grew up mainly in Connecticut. He was the son of a Connecticut physics professor and a piano teacher, and his love of art was apparent from an early age.
While growing up in Connecticut, John Currin studied the art of painting with a private tutor, a Russian artist by the name of Lev Meshberg. Meshberg was a Russian native who hailed from the Ukraine. Those early Russian influences played a big part in his early painting, and John Currin continues to draw on cultures and traditions from around the world.
After his private studies in painting were completed, John Currin went on to Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned a BFA. He went on to earn an MFA from Yale University, and from there began a storied professional career.
John Currin had always been a powerful painter, but one of his earliest breaks came in 1989, when he was invited to exhibit a series of portraits at New York City's White Columns. Those portraits were all of young girls, and they were drawn from photographs John Currin found in various high school yearbooks.
That early exhibition was just the beginning of a successful career - a career in which John Currin was able to create powerful art from seemingly mundane subject matter. Those early successes encouraged the artist to continue down this path, and each successful exhibition built on the one before.
By the 1990s, John Currin was routinely using popular depictions of women, especially full-figured young women, in his work. In addition to the aforementioned busty women, John Currin also used older men and women, creating a look that was truly his own and drawing inspiration from sources as disparate as Cosmo and Playboy magazines.
By the early 1990s, John Currin had moved to the Andrea Rosen Gallery, where he focused on a serious of less sympathetic subjects. Throughout that period of his career, John Currin continued to display a remarkable ability to create great art from kitschy subjects.
His work also continued to be successful, both commercially and critically, and by 2003, John Currin paintings were routinely bringing prices of nearly a million dollars. That success speaks for itself, and serves as further proof that John Currin deserves his place atop the modern art world.
John Currin Amanda, 2003 oil on canvas 32 x 40 1/8 inches
John Currin Angela, 2001 oil on canvas 22 x 16 inches
John Currin Gezellig, 2006 oil on canvas 36 x 28¼ inches
John Currin Nice 'n Easy, 1999 oil on canvas 44 x 34 inches
John Currin Maid of Honor, 1995 oil on canvas 36 x 28 inches
John Currin Bea Arthur Naked, 1991 oil on canvas 38¼ x 32 inches