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T+L Reports: Grand Master Flash

The newest take on Europe's old masters is stateside, in two exhibitions devoted to American painter John Currin. The 41-year-old gained renown in the nineties for his reverent, though unorthodox, approach to centuries of painting—from Cranach and Botticelli to Manet and van Gogh. In flawlessy executed and often deliberately kitschy canvases, Currin fuses historical styles with contemporary subjects: his wife and muse, the sculptor Rachel Feinstein; busty blond nudes (who often look a lot like Feinstein); average-seeming couples. The results—weirdly enthralling and erotically charged— are on view in "John Currin," at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art (May 3-August 24). Meanwhile, the artist steps into a curatorial role with "John Currin Selects," at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (May 14-January 4), using several dozen pieces from the museum's collection (a van Gogh landscape; George Benjamin Luks's sad clown; an unattributed portrait of a cockatoo) to explore the links between American and European art.
—Julie Caniglia

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