UPDATE 2/1/07: Part 2: Notes on the Current Currin Pornocopia
reBlogged via Tireshop, 1/10/07:
By Nancy Baker, aka Rebel Belle
I recently read the Jerry Saltz review of the latest of John Currin's latest exhibition at Gagosian. I'd like to say that I never really pay attention to reviews or to what the big boys are doing in their studios. I do what you probably do -- read a lot, ignore most of it, and pay attention to what drives a stake through my heart. I have a kind of like hate relationship with John Currin. At his Whitney retrospective, I was not happy. Even the tour guide (woman) wanted to cut his dick off. But I didn't really want to be angry, because that would make me react in a way that Currin had clearly staged. It was a most peculiar experience, I felt manipulated. This is indeed a very accomplished painter and a clever man who has mastered the art of agit prop.
I haven't seen the new show at Gagosian, but I'm sure you know all about it. It's beautiful pornography, which makes perfect sense in Currin's evolution. But I what I was really struck by was the similar predicament in which I am struggling, and Saltz' uncanny words that really nailed the problem.
"Around 1998, John Currin began his rise to the top of every collector’s wish list and commenced his descent into slick, fussy, quasi–Northern Renaissance academicism. "
Yikes. Mea Culpa.
"By the late '90s, aware perhaps that he was in danger of becoming a "period artist," Currin used traditional ideas about painterly skill to get beyond shtick. This opened his work up to wide audiences and helped establish him as perhaps the signature American realist of today. But this skill soon devolved into shtick. Currin's surfaces died, as did the conversation around his work, which came to revolve almost entirely around technical issues. Even he admitted, "I'm conservative," and fretted, "Maybe I'm just an academic realist." Currin's work was too specific, perverse, mannered and complex to be dismissed as only these things. But it seemed that after 1998, Currin’s inner contrarian had turned compliant.
Okay, so he salvaged himself by painting porn. Good move. I'm not pissed off anymore, it's just images of women being exquisitely rendered as sexual objects. What a relief. Same agit prop, different costume. [...]