Rotterdam John Currin
Mitchell Pluto
5 min

Penetrating the Bonita Feia: The Salacious Figures of John Currin

5 min

John Currin was born in 1962 in Boulder, Colorado, and grew up in Connecticut. His father was a physics professor and mother a piano teacher. When he was a teenager in Connecticut, he had a unique opportunity to study painting with Lev Meshberg, a highly respected Jewish artist originally from Odesa, Ukraine. He attended Carnegie Mellon University and earned a BFA in 1984, then received an MFA from Yale University in 1986. Currin found love and companionship in 1994 when he married Rachel Feinstein, his model, and fellow artist.

Mechanicsburg by John Currin

Fig 1. Mechanicsburg 2008

The bra shop

Fig 2. The bra shop 1997

Lake Place by John Currin

Fig 3. Lake Place 2012

Memorial by John Currin

Fig 4. Memorial, 2020

Experiment with Modernism

In the 80s, Currin showed a strong interest in modern figurative painters such as Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning. With a wish to explore new artistic horizons, he engaged in experiments with modern art, convinced that it could be a style for him. Over time, he became dissatisfied with the direction of the speculative. The more Currin committed himself in the style of the avant-garde and Modernism, the more he realized he was drifting away from the originality that had initially attracted him to the cultural movement.

Rotterdam John Currin

Fig 5. Rotterdam

Andrea Rosen Gallery, John Currin

Fig 6. Andrea Rosen Gallery, John Currin

John Currin erotic art

Fig 7. Kiev

Nursery by John Currin

Fig 8. Nursery, 1994

A Pivotal Moment

In a 2014 interview with American art historian James Cuno, Currin pointed out the significance of an attitude within his artistic themes. In his 2022 interview with journalist Alain Elkann, Currin revisits this stance and discusses his exploration of abstract art was a way to express feelings of elitism over his classmates. Upon graduating from school, he realized his wish to support a self-image had motivated his actions, rather than concentrating on a genuine passion for self-discovery.

After being out of school, Currin discovered that traditional figurative painting was more fulfilling. The focus was on representing the object in a conventional manner, rather than exploring it through conceptual art. His interest grew steadily in the traditional technique of representing reality through the application of layered brushstrokes and using intentional color. The Old Masters served as a source of inspiration for him, both in terms of the classic figure and painting technique.

By staying dedicated to this established style, he not only achieved great success, but also became unapologetically outspoken. His work is in high demand among wealthy collectors, who pay six to eight-figure amounts for his paintings.

Anniversary Nude by John Currin

Fig 9. Anniversary Nude 2008

Honeymoon nude by John Currin

Fig 10. Honeymoon nude 1998

kissing couple by John Currin

Fig 11.

Andrea Rosen Gallery, John Currin

Fig 12. Andrea Rosen Gallery, John Currin

Stereotypes and the Portrayal of the female figure

In the 13 Artists in the Studio interview, Kim Morgan, a Canadian visual artist, had a detailed conversation with John Currin. The discussion analyzed hi s perspective and representation of the female form. Currin expressed his pride in painting stereotypes. He communicated in his statement that he was not responsible in how the viewer formed their overall belief. Whether it was sexist, exploitative, or phony, the painted image in Currin’s mind is an illusion, regardless of its nature.

Nude with raised arms by John Currin

Fig 13. Nude with raised arms, 1998

The Storm by John Currin

Fig 14. The Storm 2013

Amanda by John Currin

Fig.15. Amanda, 2003

purple bra by John Currin

Fig.16. Purple Bra, 2006

Copenhagen by John Currin

Fig.17. Copenhagen, 2006

Friends by John Currin

Fig.18. Friends, 1998

Lemons and Lace by John Currin

Fig.19. Lemons and Lace, 2015

Happy Magdalene by John Currin

Fig.20. Happy Magdalene, 2018

masturbating female by John Currin


In Premium more on the illusionary figuration in Currin's artwork, its visual elements and humor, and numerous additional images of his extraordinary paintings.

Click HERE for the erotic masquerades of the enigmatic Andrea Alciato

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