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john currin

Post #177 • December 18, 2003, 10:24 PM • 1 Comment

I threw my two cents into the John Currin thread on the Fallon & Rosof artblog.

I ascribe John Currin's success to the fact that he uses traditional painting methods to make bitter statements about the tradition of painting. At last, the ruling party in the art world, which equates the subversion of art with its progress, can have its cake and eat it too.

I tried to give Currin a shot as a satirist along the lines of Paul Cadmus, an underrated painter who skewed all kinds of human foibles while producing some of the best figure drawings of the 20th Century. Currin is a wooden draughtsman by comparison and since his target is art, his art is about art. That is very definition of academic, and I find both his work and his popularity to be a cynical exercise.




December 23, 2003, 2:20 AM

Currin's work strikes me as an effete, archly mannered, snidely "knowing" version of Norman Rockwell. It clearly looks like old-style magazine illustration, however tweaked. The fact that he's gotten serious consideration is both an embarrassment and an indictment of the art establishment. At best, it signals an acknowledgment of the enduring validity and appeal of figurative/realist art.

Those who praise Currin invariably tout his technical capability as extraordinary. That depends entirely on one's frame of reference. Yes, he draws better than many an artist of recent vintage, but that's not saying much. Next to any successful 19th century academic artist, he looks stiff, awkward, and prissy. Next to big-league Old Master drawings, well, let's not even go there. Basically, he's a caricaturist, and his work reeks of artificiality. What was the Whitney thinking?



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