John Currin photo © Suzanne Bennett; James Cuno photo © 2011 J. Paul Getty Trust

The Un-Private Collection: John Currin and James Cuno

Sunday, Sep 14, 2014
3 pm—5 pm
The Getty Center


Please note that this program is in the past. For information about upcoming programs please visit

…When I was trying to change myself into a figurative painter, I was more drawn to the rococo and the other damned souls of art history.” – John Currin

Artist John Currin joins James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, discuss how traditional portraiture influenced Currin's modern interpretation of the form. Co-presented with The Broad's The Un-Private Collection art talk series and the Getty Museum's Getty Perspectives series, their conversation considered Currin's works in the Broad collection and classic European paintings and drawings in the Getty collection.

Currin emerged in the 1990s as one of the freshest voices in American art and was among a wave of contemporary artists who established a renewed interest in portraiture. Drawing from sources as diverse as Northern Renaissance paintings and pinup magazines, he is known for his distortions of the human figure and his critiques of societal ideals of beauty. Currin is also known for his contemporary renditions of old master poses and formats that often conflate opposing sensibilities—vaulted taste with vulgarity, sentimentality with irony, and conventional beauty with banality. Often rife with art historical references and suggestions, Currin’s work overlays with the Getty’s mission as an institution dedicated to critical thinking in the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world's artistic legacy.

View works by John Currin in the collections


Guest Curators

This talk was co-presented with the Getty Museum's 'Getty Perspectives' series


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About The Un-Private Collection

The Un-Private Collection is an ongoing series of public programs The Broad began in September 2013. The series introduces audiences to the museum’s 2,000-work contemporary art collection by showcasing stories behind the collection, the collectors and the artists. Since launching the program, The Broad has brought together a variety of artists whose works are in the Broad collection in conversation with cultural leaders, including Mark Bradford with Katy Siegel, Shirin Neshat with Christy MacLear, Jeff Koons with John Waters, Takashi Murakami with Pico Iyer, Eric Fischl with Steve Martin, John Currin with James Cuno, Kara Walker with Ava DuVernay and architect Elizabeth Diller with Eli Broad, Joanne Heyler and Paul Goldberger. Talks have been held at venues throughout Los Angeles, making the programming available to audiences across the city. Conversations are live-streamed and full videos of past talks are available online. The Un-Private Collection series is part of the Broad collection’s 30-year mission to make contemporary art accessible to the widest possible audience.

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