February 13, 2004
Painted from Mammaries

Well-Rounded: Potrait of the Artist as a Tit Man

Tomorrow's Valentine's Day. (What, you forgot? You must be that insensitive clod dating Bridget Harrison. There's always Duane Reade...)

Anyway, if you're a straight fella living in New York and you find yourself in that awkward first few weeks of a relationship and you're concerned about the significance of this Halmarkiest of holidays you've got some options. Here's one you probably hadn't considered: check out the John Currin exhibition at the Whitney, which is in its last two weeks. (The museum's open from 11-6 on Saturdays.)

If you're dating one of those high strung liberal arts college types, she'll have a ball with Currin's voluptuous grotesques (or are they grotesque voluptuaries? I never can tell): she'll also have fun seeing all the other women in the gallery slumping forward slightly, de-emphasizing their busts and shrinking from the male gaze. (If she's gettin' up there in the years, she'll also love his depiction of the elderly.) You'll have a great time staring at Currin's painstakingly-realized pin-ups and feeling the awkward sensation of seeing your basest male fantasies writ embarrassingly large. (If you prefer your base male fantasies writ smaller, check out the much less respectable Art Frahm collection over at Lileks.)

The nice thing is that entire show comes pre-ironized for everyone's protection. How can you take the images to heart when they're presented as retro-jokes, replete with descriptions that evoke naughty jokes in old issues of Playboy? Take the card next to Girl on a Hill (1995): "[Currin] longs for the golden-hewed grassy hilltops of Northern California." Now laugh together at the fact that everywhere you look are golden-hewed hills. Then you can laugh at the fact that a good portion of the pieces are held in private collections in Beverly Hills and in the WASP ghettos of Connecticut. (And if you're extra lucky, maybe you'll see a woman with crutches staring balefully at this image, like I did last month.)

This is fun! Mounds of it.

Of course, if your special lady is one of those uptight "feminists" who can't take a joke, well, you're in the wrong place, pal. You can expect to go home alone tonight, and—how can we put this delicately?—play air guitar to your Strokes CD. (The John Currin catalog only costs $50, but a copy of Juggs will run you, like, $7.) Happy Valentine's Day.

Sidebar: Speak Mammaries. Tits are big right now. Huge! First came Currin. Then Mary Louise Parker and the other stacked starlets at the Golden Globes, followed closely by Janet Jackson's tempest in a C-cup at the Super Bowl. Then there's the back-channel chatter among bloggers about one of our own that's crossed the line from ignorable to Orange-alert levels. (Guys, do we need to discuss the difference between fetishizing mostly-underage celebrities who are hidden behind publicists, handlers, and bodyguards and fetishizing a real live person who might find your repeated, and entirely unfunny references to her 'rack' off-putting and even frightening? A little respect and we won't have to resort to Antioch-like rules, okay?) Up next, A Dirty Shame, John Waters' next film starring Selma Blair as Caprice Stickles, a head-injury victim endowed with breasts the size of watermelons. It's only February and it's the best year Russ Meyer's had in a decade.

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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