Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Currin and Fashion, encore une fois

Once again, art and fashion intersect, and once again, I’m surprised to locate artist John Currin at the center of this moment.

This time, he’s not explicitly involved, in that there’s no deliberate interpretation of his work. But the minute I saw Gwyneth Paltrow in these sky-high heels,

I thought of another Currin image, this one, below, that doesn’t even involve any shoes.

But when you juxtapose the photo of Gwynnie with the portrait of this buxom duo, their equally disproportionate body halves—bottom and top—unexpectedly balance each other, creating one conflated image of a terribly distorted representation of femininity.

To my eye, in these heels, Gwyneth looks like a John Currin portrait, without the irony.

Her long frame seems literally stuffed into the shoes and, indeed, the shoes dictate how she carries her body. Her posture—the soft curve of her back—her too-short skirt revealing her powerful legs going soft, her soft curls and winsome expression all suggest a hyperfemininity, and, more problematically, a helplessness, a certain vulnerability.

I love high heels. This week I wore a pair of four-inch heels for the first time, and felt powerful—when planted securely in one place. But add any more unnatural height, and I’d start to feel like a caricature.

I’d like to consign the exaggerated Currin woman to the gallery walls, where she can be studied, deconstructed, even admired. But not emulated, please.


K.Line said...

You know, the whole "Gwynnie resurgence" is very artifical, in my opinion. But as a woman who had a child and felt invisible for years, I can relate to her recent re-emergence. I read an article about her wherein she spoke about a knee injury requiring surgery. Does this seem like a sensible course of action - wearing sky-high heels, I mean - given the structural challenges she had rather recently? There really is no irony...

enc said...

I KNEW I'd seen that Currin image somewhere before: in the New Yorker's profile of him. Quite risqué!

The image of GP reminded me of his work, too.

miss cavendish said...

The tip-top image reminds me of Gwynnie in The Royal Tennenbaums, too.

K.Line--I hear you about the invisibility of new (and not-so-new) mothers. After years of doing the "thinking woman's" films for Miramax et al (Shakespeare in Love, Emma) GP seems to be attempting to reclaim her sexuality, albeit in a clumsy manner. So sad that there's such pressure upon her to do so.

And enc, if you read the New Yorker profile (which was so interesting, no?), you'll know that I've selected the relatively PG versions of Currin. I think I've done as much with him as I can for this blog without wandering into more challenging territory!

pve design said...

we all have quirks right, take a look at mine!
oh darn, my 7th quirk would be love of shoes and with a size 10 foot, not being able to wear everything I would like!
fashion does have a price!

riz said...

This is really smart, and I think you are dead on! GP = a Currin portrait w/out the irony...

There's also an element of the grotesque in Currin