Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Currin Events

Speaking of John Currin and auctions. Did you know that a 1991 painting he did of actress Bea Arthur’s boobs sold for $1.9 million this past week? Bea Arthur Naked was part of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction last Wednesday. It was purchased by an anonymous bidder.

Bea Arthur Naked (along with its contemporaries) was controversial from the start. Critics called Currin a misogynist and urged readers to boycott his 1992 show at New York’s Andrea Rosen Gallery. Even Currin’s own words seem jarring. He described the sexualized older women he depicted as “between the object of desire and the object of loathing.”

But to me, Bea Arthur Naked looks more dignified than a lot of Currin’s work. It’s almost reverent. Bea smirks at us. She looks confident, as if daring us to take a peek at her “golden girls.” It’s no Thanksgiving, but it has the feel of a middle-aged Olympia. And it’s definitely fun.

Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863, oil on canvas, 130 x 190 cm.

So without further ado, I give you John Currin’s Bea Arthur Naked. Be warned! The photo got people temporarily booted from Facebook.

John Currin, Bea Arthur Naked, 1991, oil on canvas, 97.1 x 81.2 cm.

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