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John Currin (American, b.1962)

Paintings

Birth Place: Boulder (Boulder county, Colorado, United States)

Biography:

Who is painter John Currin?

John Currin is an American painter who is best known for his oil on canvas paintings of the female figure as well as his celebrity portraits. Currin’s pieces are often heavily influenced by the Dutch masters, and though he is a modern artist his pieces harken back to either a rococo aesthetic or like something from classic magazine illustrators of the 1930s. That said, his work often deals with sexuality in non-traditional ways. Currin cites Cosmopolitan and old issues of Playboy as inspiration for many of his paintings.

In the early 2000s, Currin’s work found a large audience -- with some of his paintings selling in the six figure range -- even though he was still a young artist without a proven track record. His work has become popular in both the commercial and high art spaces. He’s had solo exhibitions at some of the most prestigious galleries and museums around the world including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Gagosian Gallery in Paris, amongst others. An innovator, iconoclast, and subject of controversy, Currin’s work is challenging, beautiful, and subversive.

What kind of art does John Currin make?

John Currin makes oil on canvas paintings, typically of the female figure. These paintings often seek to explore the representation of women’s sexuality in popular culture. Currin often uses commercial art from magazines like Cosmo or Playboy as inspirations for his pieces. That said, Currin is a master technician and his paintings can often mimic or subvert classical painting styles. Most recently, Currin has created a series of paintings that are inspired by 16th century Northern European paintings. This combination of traditional, commercial, and the avant garde has made Currin extremely in demand as an artist. His pieces often command extremely high prices when they become available at auction.

How did painter John Currin get started?

John Currin was born in Boulder, Colorado in 1962 to an upper middle-class family. They soon moved to Connecticut, where the young Currin immersed himself in painting. In his teen years he was able to receive private instruction from Lev Meshberg, a traditionally trained Russian painter who lived in the area. He went to Carnegie Mellon University where he received his BFA in 1984, following that with an MFA from Yale in 1986. Currin began developing his signature style and aesthetics during his time at White Columns in New York, sometime in the late 1980s. Later, in the late 1990s, Currin’s painting became the buzz of the New York art scene, allowing Currin to dedicate his life full time to his art.

How much are John Currin paintings worth?

John Currin’s paintings have a wide range of value, from around a thousand dollars for a charcoal sketch, to well over a million dollars for his major work. The most ever paid at auction for a John Currin painting is $12,007,500 for the piece Nice ‘n Easy (1999) which sold on November 15th, 2016. This is by far Currin’s highest selling piece, but he does have several that have sold for mid-seven figures over the last decade and a half. Currin has five other paintings that have sold for three million or more since 2008.

Where to buy John Currin paintings for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value John Currin paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.


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John Currin Original Art values sold at auction

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