Lovers, 1993, by John Currin (oil on canvas, 86.4cm x 71.1cm)
Lovers, 1993, by John Currin (oil on canvas, 86.4cm x 71.1cm) © John Currin. Photograph: Fred Scruton. Courtesy Gagosian

Best known for his kitsch, surreal and often provocative oil paintings of women, American artist John Currin focuses instead on depictions of his own gender in a book published next week. Titled John Currin: Men, the book intersperses essays from curator Alison M Gingeras, journalist Naomi Fry and the New York-based psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster with paintings and drawings that span the whole of Currin’s 40-year career. They show that the artist has long been fascinated by men and masculinity: men making pasta, men being fitted for suits, men naked and wielding fishing nets, men looking serious with beautiful women, as in his 1993 painting Lovers. But all is not (always) as it seems. Speaking in 2011, the artist said of his subjects: “If there’s a reverse logic to my work, it’s that the pictures of men are about men, and the pictures of women are about me.”

John Currin: Men (Gagosian/Rizzoli) is out on 3 March (

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