The Hobo
Average: 5 (1 vote)

More about The Hobo

jcappetta's picture


Usually we think of a hobo as a homeless person, but technically a hobo is a traveling worker.

It’s not clear what kind of work exactly this “hobo” is doing but given Currin’s proclivity for porno source material we might have a few ideas... Originally he thought “it would be interesting to do porno drawn really poorly. To sort of double disappoint.” But instead he got hyped on the Old Masters and ended up painting porno really really well, which still double disappoints: you’re disappointed that it’s a porno in an art gallery (maybe) and you’re disappointed that such a good painter isn’t doing something better with his talent. Like his grad-school classmate Lisa Yuskavage, he makes critics unhappy, which must be a lot of fun.

John Currin is a kind-of-loveable ivy-league jerk. He’s a little islamophobic and sees the war in Iraq as part of a “larger cultural struggle.” But he also says meeting his wife (also an artist, Rachel Feinstein) brought him “to the conclusion that there is no misery in art.” Which is cute. His paintings toe much the same line between unexamined white, heteronormative eurocentrism and sweet nice humanity. The Hobo is an almost tasteless mash-up of Botticelli-esque curls on a pin-up body with a ludicrous porno premise—“hot girl shows up at a hobo camp and mass fellatio ensues” or something like that. But it’s so farcical and whimsical and pretty that you might find yourself liking it against your better judgment. Like the guy at the 4th of July party wearing salmon shorts and boat shoes who also happens to really like James Joyce and you want to hate him but he could recite the last paragraph of “Dubliners” in its entirety and he also thinks his pink shorts are dumb, and he tells jokes about them.

This is the reason nobody can hate a Currin, it’s smart and funny. References to art history on top of references to porn, there’s something in The Hobo for everyone. Probably the only people that hate it are his parents, I mean how is that going to sound when they’re trying to brag about their kid at dinner parties?




  1. Tomkins, Calvin. “Lifting the Veil: Old Masters, Pornography, and the work of John Currin.” The New Yorker, June 2008. Accessed June 11, 2018.
  2. O’Brian, Glenn. “John Currin.” Interview, May 22, 2009. Accessed June 11, 2018.
  3. Powers, Bill. “John Currin Talks X-Ray Vision and X-Rated Art.” GQ, March 20, 2017. Accessed June 11, 2018.