New York

Left to right: John Currin, The Invalids, 1997, oil on canvas, 48 x 36". John Currin, Homemade Pasta, 1999, oil on canvas, 50 x 42”.

John Currin

New Museum

What is “normal” love? Mom and dad’s? Teen sweethearts? God? Your identification with certain characters from the soaps? From Art History 101? Is it the way you feel about your favorite underwear? This earlyish midcareer retrospective of paintings by John Currin provides ample material for the elaboration of these questions; authorities ranging from Saint Paul to Penthouse Letters provide some answers.

The exhibition opens with the middle-aged-woman paintings that first earned Currin a particular notoriety in the early ’90s. No discussion of these works should omit Kim Levin’s admonishment regarding their debut at Andrea Rosen Gallery to the readers of the Village Voice, “Boycott this show.” Currin poses his subjects against stark, blank backgrounds, which he has described as suggestive of Brice Marden’s monochromatic fields—late-modernist high culture or, in the artist’s words, “constipated

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