John Currin’s studio and my gallery’s office, where I spent most of my time, used to face each other across West 14th Street. During the slow moments of my own work, I used to love to watch him work. What I mostly remember was the focused scrutiny he brought to each canvas. After having seen his new show at the Whitney, I am struck again by the effect of that careful dedication. Every aspect of his paintings seems informed by references and careful consideration.
Much has been said about the women in John Currin’s work. Equally compelling is the trajectory in his depictions of men. Recently, Currin turned his lens to gay couples. As with the women, these subjects don’t get away without an overhaul. They are right out of the heartland of middle America, from the realm of Wonder Bread, Norman Rockwell, and Hallmark.