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Christie's to offer a stunning portrait of Joan Collins as part of the Collection of Douglas S. Cramer sale
John Currin, Gezellig ( Joan Collins). Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 in. Painted in 2006. Estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced the sale of works from the Collection of Douglas S. Cramer as a highlight of its highly anticipated Post-War & Contemporary Art sales in November 2012 in New York. Cramer is one of the most successful producers in the history of television and renowned for such legendary shows as Love Boat, Wonder Woman, Dynasty and for developing Batman, Peyton Place, and The Odd Couple. Among the works offered in the Evening sale on November 14th , Christie's will present a stunning portrait of Joan Collins, by John Currin.

John Currin’s Gezellig is an important painting that forms part of his recent series inspired by pornographic imagery. The in-your-face foreshortening of this composition is designed to challenge the viewer to look up at the model’s face, the usual first point of call in observing humans in real life or representations. Controversial and driven by his own unique vision, Currin has been heralded as one of the most important artists of his generation and in the powerful position of re-directing people back to discussions of painting's relevance. With Gezellig he appears to play on the idea of painting as fetish object, doomed to be a victim of the lustful, objectifying male voyeur, while humorously re-casting the subject of Gustav Courbet’s erotic masterpiece L’Origine du monde as a slightly bored, middle-class intellectual.

Despite this statement about his increasingly virtuosic technique, Currin has not lost his ambition or his ability to shock. Gezellig was created for Currin’s first exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery, in which more explicit content was presented than in any other images created by the politically incorrect provocateur. The painting was exhibited with several scenes of group sex and climaxing couples based on both vintage porn and the Venus’ of centuries old paintings. Gezellig’s sultry brunette is modeled on a cover image from a 1970s sex magazine showing soap super-star Joan Collins in scanty black lace lingerie. Currin has undressed the actress even further here, completely exposing her erogenous zones while placing a book in her hand and toning down her make-up to partially diffuse the photograph’s aggressive sexuality. This is the inverse of the portraits of dowdy menopausal women that first brought Currin attention in the early 1990s. The source image of a then 45-year-old Collins, taken during her 1978 movie The Stud, showed she was clearly still in her prime, indeed it caught her in the upswing of her fame, a couple of years before she was offered a role in Dynasty. Currin retains much of her charm and physical beauty in this painting, somehow sidestepping his typical exaggeration of the body to preserve her sexual allure.

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October 8, 2012

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