Adrian Searle has a take on John Currin’s new paintings. If you want to judge for yourself, the video above has Currin discussing his work at The DePaul Humanities Center in Chicago suggests that what Searle surmises about Currin’s intentions or fixation on the value of his work may be more Searle’s invention:
Filled with visual jokes, art historical pastiche and unlovable people, Currin’s paintings are hard to take seriously – in fact, hard to take at all, and certainly not at surface value, although surface is all they are. As absurd and decadent as their high prices, and the art world in which they circulate, Currin’s canvases stop you in your tracks. He knows that paintings are a kind of high-end luxury object, conversation pieces and vanities for their owners. He knows we know it too. Like his contemporary Lisa Yuskavage (they studied together at Yale in the mid-80s), whose lurid, sickly paintings depict hippies, impossibly pneumatic fairy chicks and gross dudes, Currin paints pictures that defy taste. They have a painterly erudition that trips you up and makes you feel bad about both hating their work and liking it a lot. Both positions feel untenable. But then painting is untenable too, which is a good enough reason to be doing it.