Muse Report

Coco Young On Sitting for Provocative Painter John Currin

<i>It can’t be an easy decision to sit for an artist notorious for his distorted, luridly seductive and parodic paintings of women—no matter how brilliant and acclaimed they may be. Here Coco Young tells us about becoming the subject of painter John Currin’s gaze, and the dark tale of her favorite fur coat.

“Being an artist’s model is not something I aspire to, it just happened: I was interning for the art magazine Tar and Bill Powers—he’s an art director and gallery owner in New York and he’s also [fashion designer] Cynthia Rowley’s husband—wanted to introduce me to his friend John Currin. At the time I had no idea who he was. I was Googling ‘paintings by John Currin’ and what was coming up was his pornographic work, so I was a bit concerned and I even remember showing them to my mum. But I decided to meet him anyway—I say yes to most projects because you never know what might turn out. At his studio I really fell in love with his current work (while I like the pornographic paintings, I personally did not want to be posing like that) and so we decided to work together. One work––I think he is painting it now––features a fur coat that I had, which I posed with many times, both naked and wearing it. It reminded John of a fur coat his wife, Rachel Feinstein, had back when they met, so he was excited to be using it. I actually ended up giving it to him because I was mugged in Brooklyn last December when I was wearing it; it got torn and there is a lot of blood on the lining. It was my favorite coat, but there was no way I was going to wear it again, and I decided to give it to him for the sake of art. I know he often changes his ideas at the last minute, so I hope there will be a painting of that coat—for the memory if it.”

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