John Currin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Saturday, May 7, 2016 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Cher Peintre: Peintures Figuratives depuis l'Ultime Picabia, June 12 - September 2, 2002; then traveled to Vienna, Kunsthalle Wien; Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Lieber Maler, Male Mir...Dear Painter, Paint Me, September 20, 2002 - April 6, 2003,p. 84 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Mia Fineman, "Married to Each Other, to Art and to Art History", The New York Times, October 28, 2001 (illustrated)
    Sibylle Berg, "Viele bunte Bilder, darauf:/Lots of Colorful Pictures, in Them:", Parkett, no. 65, 2002, p. 46 (illustrated)
    John Currin, exh. cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, 2003, p. 108 (illustrated)
    Kara Vander Weg, ed., John Currin, New York: Gagosian Gallery and Rizzoli, 2006, pp. 294-295 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    ''Figuration has taken on the burden of always having to mean something…but what I think ruins a lot of painting is the urge to put meaning into it.” John Currin

    By 2001, the year John Currin executed Angela, the artist was already widely considered one of the most consequential artists to emerge from a group of figurative painters who received attention in the 1990s for both examining the tradition and questioning the meaning of representational painting. For a decade, Currin inspired awe with his masterful compositions, fusing historical and contemporary styles and source material. With inspirations as diverse as Old Master portraits, pin-ups, and pornography, he earned a reputation for pushing the boundaries of taste with his representations of women, often rendered as physically impossible objects of male desire.

    The early 2000s mark a departure for Currin from these highly-eroticized subjects in favor of a formal exploration of how content can be embedded in the practice of painting. Critic Mia Fineman describes his virtuosic command of this medium in the specific body of work, which includes Angela, in her 2001 New York Times article. In the feature, she emphasizes Currin’s use of a unique and oftentimes disquieting color palette, dwelling on colors self-described as “greenish peachy flesh tones” and the sullen blacks that gleam “like the darkness in a Technicolor horror film.”

    Upon encountering Angela, 2001, one is immediately taken by the artist’s masterful use of color and light. Currin’s radiant subject emits a golden glow reminiscent of a Byzantine icon, and her off-kilter gaze and prominent forehead capture his inimitable ability to explore features that at once captivate and unsettle the viewer. In particular, Currin has alluded to the forehead as a carrier of emotion and meaning, as well as a distinguishing characteristic feature among the subjects of painters like Manet and Bellini. His emphasis on the figure’s forehead can also be read as a symbol of the artist’s specific approach to this body of work. Living with these works in his studio for a prolonged period of time, Currin explores the slow consciousness of the paintings by working continuously in a range of techniques.

    Angela exemplifies the concerns most relevant to Currin during a time that marked a decided shift from the sexually-charged imagery present in much of his previous work. While Angela, 2001 represents the artist’s focus on sophistication of technique, the subject’s unsettling gaze testifies that this emphasis on technical mastery only bolstered Currin’s deftness of perception, giving way to more nuanced powers of social observation.

Property from an Important New York Collection



oil on canvas
22 x 16 in. (55.9 x 40.6 cm)

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 May 2016