423
423

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MARSHALL AND WALLIS KATZ

John Currin
HAPPY LOVERS
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 495,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
423

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MARSHALL AND WALLIS KATZ

John Currin
HAPPY LOVERS
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 495,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

John Currin
B. 1962
HAPPY LOVERS
signed and dated 93 on the overlap
oil on canvas
30 by 26 in. 76.2 by 66 cm.
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Provenance

Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York 
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1994

Exhibited

New York, Andrea Rosen Gallery, John Currin, January - March 1994
Limoges, Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain du Limousin; London, Institute of Contemporary Arts, John Currin: Oeuvres/Works 1989-1995, July 1995 - February 1996, pl. 52, p. 52, illustrated in color
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; London, The Serpentine Gallery; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, John Currin, May 2003 - February 2004, p. 46, illustrated in color

Literature

Helena Papadopoulos, "John Currin," Arti, November - December 1994, p. 122, illustrated in color
Burkhard Riemschneider and Uta Grosenick, Eds., Art at the Turn of the Millennium, Cologne 1999, pl. 5, p. 112, illustrated in color
Kara Vader Weg and Rose Dergan, Eds., John Currin, New York 2006, p. 113, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

An uncanny portrait that melds sharp realism with straightlaced conventionality, Happy Lovers from 1993, richly imparts John Currin’s very best formal evocation of the wry undercurrents saturating social customs. The present work is the first painting in Currin's series of Lovers; middle-aged couples in hackneyed poses are set against monochromatic green screen type backdrops. 

Currin culls his source material from old magazine ads and catalogue spreads. Happy Lovers is a reimagined version of a rum advertisement from a 1970s Playboy magazine. Here, the lovers are tenderly united, her head resting gently on his chest. In their monochromatic crewneck sweaters with stark white collars peeking out, the couple looks like a pair of actors staged in a stock image. Through this obvious display of trite pretense, it is Currin’s underlying aim to expose the artifice behind prosaic images of cultural conventionality. The expectation is that an image of a happy couple might arouse passion, nostalgia, or longing; however, this image seems to have the opposite effect — its artificiality is cold, distant, and frozen, and thus unrelatable.

As remarkably explained by Frederic Paul, Currin’s paintings “possess an aura of mystery that comes from the repeated appearance of idealized and naive images trivialized through overuse. Male and female figures are thus treated as mere models, sometimes even becoming caricatures, though never turning into kitsch, grotesque or comic elements. His paintings give the impression of being populated by virile, bearded model-males and curvaceous, politely decorated model-females, just past their prime” (Frederic Paul, “John Currin: A Model Painter,” in Exh. Cat., Limoges, Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain du Limousin, John Currin, 1995, p. 64). Exuding an affected ambiguity that elicits our reconsideration of ingrained cultural norms, Happy Lovers epitomizes the wry humor and irony with which Currin has crucially reinvigorated the genre of portraiture.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York