New York

John Currin

Andrea Rosen Gallery

John Currin’s work makes Lucian Freud’s “penetrating” portraits seem wretchedly old-fashioned, pedantic. Is Currin out to rescue the arguably lapsed genre of portraiture from an imminent fade-out? Or is the model of portraiture paraded before us like some stale cliché, inviting the kind of wholesale derision that may lead to the implosion of a historical convention? He may want it both ways. Admittedly, it has always been unclear whether Currin’s earlier pictures of girls or young women make reference to “actual” people in the world, or are fanciful composites that speak more about their author’s tastes, desires, and projections. How can we begin to come to terms with the death-glazed expressions—the seemingly taxidermied eyes—of those anonymous females that were only allowed incomplete resurrection as portraits based on images from discarded school yearbooks?

Maybe Currin is like a wannabe

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 1994 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.