PaperCity Magazine

September 2019- Fort Worth

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88 Summer life. We're in Mount Desert Island, the same island that has Bar Harbor. The kids are going to day camp here. My wife, Rachel [Feinstein], and I have studios, and we can work during the day. And it's pretty wonderful. We've actually been coming here most summers since the mid-1990s. We've bought a house, and we've built studios. It's become a very important part of our family's life. We spend at least two months here a year. How the Dallas Contemporary exhibition come to be. I've known [curator] Alison Gingeras for many years. She came up with the idea independent of me … I used to do slide lectures for other artists at what was called Kamp Kippy, a kind of artist's retreat in Maine. I was doing lectures every year, and I ran out of subjects. I thought, 'Maybe I'll just do a slide lecture of all my men images.' Weirdly, around the same time Alison BY CATHERINE D. ANSPON. PORTRAIT LEE CLOWER FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES. THE QUEST FOR CURRIN approached me about doing a show of all men. I guess it was on both of our minds. But Alison is the one that really came up with an idea to do men as a show. It was probably four years ago. On you and Dallas. I did a lecture at SMU in 2010 and was very pleasantly surprised. I'd been to Dallas once as a little kid, to go to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth. I had one painting in a show at the Meadows Museum at SMU [in "Spanish Muse: A Contemporary Response"], which I believe is going to be in the Dallas Contemporary show; it's called Rippowam, which is an Indian name. It's a doughy looking blonde guy and a somewhat exotic, dark-haired woman sharing brandy. That was the only time I've been to Texas in my professional life. In terms of the current climate and the larger conversation about gender, it's interesting to show the men as the bookend to your women. I'm not sure whether it's gender or sex. But I think I've always painted men as a kind of escape from when painting women starts to seem overdone to me — and cloying — and I can't seem to empathize. Normally I feel like I empathize more with women and women as characters and as personas in a painting. But sometimes it breaks down, and I think that's when I paint the odd man. I don't know whether the men are self-portraits; they convey something very different for me emotionally than the women do. But it's often to take a break from painting women that I paint men. Painting men is just a completely different experience for me than painting a woman. The woman sort of comes out naturally — and the reverie is almost automatic. With men, it's like pulling a tooth. It's more difficult. And stranger. PAGE 88: JOHN CURRIN'S FISHERMEN, 2002. OIL ON CANVAS, 50 X 41". © JOHN CURRIN. PHOTO ROB MCKEEVER, COURTESY GAGOSIAN. PAGE 89: JOHN CURRIN'S 2070, 2005. OIL ON LINEN, 36 X 28". © JOHN CURRIN. PHOTO ROB MCKEEVER, COURTESY GAGOSIAN. JOHN CURRIN'S JESUS CHRIST, 1995. OIL ON CANVAS, 18 X 14". © JOHN CURRIN. PHOTO ROB MCKEEVER, COURTESY GAGOSIAN. John Currin's Mannerist and Northern Renaissance-style canvases startle and transgress in their disquieting depictions of contemporary women, distorted figures of pin-up voluptuousness that elicit admiration, envy, even outrage. Now, his male subjects are being examined in "My Life as a Man," at Dallas Contemporary — his first American museum show in 15 years. We rang the artist at his summer place in Mount Desert Island, Maine, to discuss the occasion.

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