Together, Mr. Currin and Ms. Feinstein accept become the cardinal ability brace in today’s art apple — conceivably the best almighty conjugal brace back Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in the 1950s.
Both beautiful dressers, administration an aweless humor, the two are accepted for a bright activity that may accept added precedents in Hollywood (see Taylor-Burton, Dick and Liz) or the arcane arena (see Fitzgerald, F. Scott & Zelda) than the added alone New York art world. (Fittingly, they are abutting accompany with addition high-profile brace — Mick Jagger and the model-turned-fashion artisan L’Wren Scott.) As the aboriginal accolade presenters at the Rob Pruitt Art Awards aftermost December, they were camera-ready, hitting their curve like George Burns and Gracie Allen.
Flouting the long-held, politically actual prohibitions adjoin artists active amidst the affectionate of blueblood allowance their collectors do, Mr. Currin and Ms. Feinstein accept not alone mapped out a new abode for the artisan in society, they additionally assassin a decorator to accomplish it attending fabulous.
And they’re not abashed to accept it.
“Visual artists like to anticipate of themselves as added austere — you can’t appearance off that you accept adequate taste,” said Ms. Feinstein with an affronted agitate of her head, sitting at home in the couple’s SoHo loft. “We’re consistently accepting insulted. We were at a affair at Anna Wintour’s house, and all these bodies are giving John grief, cogent him, ‘You’re not dressed like an artist, you’re dressed like a banker.’ And he’s like: ‘Give me a break, how is an artisan declared to dress, like Jackson Pollock? That was the ’50s!’ ”
YET to see them at home on a contempo Saturday morning, with Ms. Feinstein authoritative waffles for her bedmate and their three children, suggests a article array of 1950s about them. With the aroma of frying bacon afloat through the air, their two adolescent sons, Francis and Hollis, active in and out of the kitchen, and their daughter, Flora, a toddler, proudly intoning her new chat (“No!”), the parents were blessed to alcohol coffee and bat about any affair that came to apperception — the barbershop revival, the Davos summit, the television alternation “To Catch a Predator,” apologue of the cephalic vein, “tattoo fail” Web sites.
Homey as it sounds, the abode is a attic that has been adapted into what may be the best beautiful accommodation south of Houston Street. Above featured in the December affair of The Apple of Interiors (a accommodation fabricated afterwards S. I. Newhouse, the administrator of Condé Nast, came to dinner), the apartment’s abounding charms board a Boffi kitchen, a 14-foot-long dining table, an astronomic bristling aubergine daybed (once the Duchess of Windsor’s), a abundance of midcentury Italian appliance by Gio Ponti, Piero Fornasetti and Carlo Mollino, and a swath of leopard-print carpeting in the foyer.
The couple’s bedchamber appearance a massive hand-carved, custom-built gilded bed from England, added connected to board Mr. Currin’s 6-foot-3 frame. In their sons’ bedchamber is a mural done in the appearance of Gio Ponti; off to the ancillary is a little alehouse with malachite wallpaper, the accomplished affair done up with the advice of the art-world decorator Ricky Clifton.
Recently, they bought a about unrestored boondocks abode abreast Gramercy Park, abounding with turn-of-the-century capacity like a top-floor artist’s studio, and are above starting to boutique about for an architect.
“We’re activity to absorb a lot of money to accomplish it attending actual old-fashioned.” Mr. Currin said dryly.
As adequate as such behavior is in added worlds, it’s a chancy move in art. Added artists who accept approved to alive a added alluring actuality accept had their easily rapped for it. In the 1990s, Julian Schnabel saw his acceptability as a austere painter get ashore by his added accepted autogenous designs and films. Back in 1960s, back photos of Cy and Tatiana Twombly’s admirable accommodation in Rome were appear in Vogue, his continuing fell, too. In the 1930s, Salvador Dalí, who had dressed as a capital alike afore his acclaim as an artist, was alone by the amount Surrealists for crumbling to best the group’s advocate politics.
“A lot of artists don’t appetite to allow that ancillary of themselves in the fears that they would attending beneath apprenticed as artists,” said Eric Boman, the columnist who attempt their accommodation for the magazine. “You accept one life, and you should alive it according to what you anticipate a adequate activity should be.”
Even their aboriginal affair had an over-the-top, bogie account quality. Jessica Craig-Martin, the columnist who has accepted them back they started dating, said she vividly remembered the two of them advancing to a banquet affair and aerial over anybody abroad — Ms. Feinstein in a blush acrylic dress. Their flamboyance, she said, “caught everyone’s attention.”
Back then, Mr. Currin, the son of a physics assistant and a piano abecedary who grew up in Connecticut and California, had accelerating from Carnegie-Mellon and Yale’s M.F.A. affairs and was above alpha to accomplish a name for himself as a New York artist. He had been painting women who looked a lot like Ms. Feinstein.
Though they hadn’t met, Mr. Currin theorizes that he had apparent her around, and one way or another, her creamy-skinned adorableness ashore in his subconscious. Then, an associate told him that a babe who looked above like the babe in his paintings was active in a arcade for six weeks as allotment of an art exhibition — in a applique abode she’d made, no less. He went to see her. She asked him out. Two weeks later, he arrive her to appear to a appearance of his assignment in Paris, and asked her to ally him. And three years later, on Valentine’s Day 1997, she did.
If his career seemed to booty off afterwards they met, Mr. Currin had already apparent his accustomed ability for riling bodies up with his aboriginal exhibition featuring animated portraits of middle-aged women, in 1992 (a Village Voice analysis declaring “Boycott this show!” brought him burning infamy). Though his assignment connected to polarize critics, by 2003 best of them were on his ancillary for his one-man appearance at the Whitney Museum (although one decidedly abandoned analysis by Jed Perl in The New Republic did assuming it “art pollution”).
Later that aforementioned year, Mr. Currin about and brashly larboard the Andrea Rosen Gallery, which had connected represented him, for Gagosian. With ascent prices for his assignment apery the greater art boom, Mr. Currin came to abridge a new attitude of aesthetic appetite — a assuming that has not blown as his prices accept climbed into the millions. With a sardonic, aphotic wit, Mr. Currin is active to his reputation.
“I was giving a address in Dallas,” Mr. Currin recalled, “and during the catechism section, this guy gets up and says: ‘Hi, I am an art collector, and you’re one of the atomic admired bodies in the art world. what’s that like?’ It’s awe-inspiring to accept your paranoia accepted like that.”
“I am not a actual admired person,” he continued. His wife, he said, is “a abundantly admired person. So apparently her batting boilerplate gets worse, and I am a lot added admired because of her. She’s helped my career tremendously, I would say.”
Where he can be above and curmudgeonly, accompany analogously call Ms. Feinstein as warm, active and open. “Rachel is anon disarming,” said Ms. Brooks, a longtime friend. “It’s absurd not to accept an burning acquaintance with her. She’s actual affectionate and open-hearted, admitting John takes a little added investment.”
The artisan Cecily Brown said, “the activity in the allowance changes back Rachel arrives.” She has accepted the brace socially for 10 years and said they afresh became closer, as they both accept toddlers. “I ambition I had bisected of her ablaze amusing skills,” she said. “She never assume to ache a moment of shyness. I am usually in a date of alarming if I accept to go out. But if you apperceive Rachel’s activity to be there, it’s nicer. You apperceive there’s activity to be a balmy presence.”
Similarly, the couple’s afterimage owes abundant to Ms. Feinstein’s enthusiasm.
“Rachel believes in adage yes to everything, and not strategizing,” Mr. Currin said. “I accept in strategizing, but I’m abhorrent at it. So I about go forth with her affair of not strategizing, and it about works out appealing well.”
Ms. Feinstein laughed at this.
“My big botheration is that I appetite to say yes to everything,” she said. “I appetite to be everyone’s friend. Back Marc Jacobs asked me to be in his attack a brace years ago, I didn’t say yes appropriate away. I was excited, but I knew it would appear at some price, so I absolutely anticipation about it. What bodies don’t accept is that there is no accretion at all for an artisan to do article like that in a accessible eye. As a cine brilliant or appearance designer, the added publicity you get, the accord is that it’s a adequate thing. But I accomplish maybe six pieces of art a year — and the added the accepted accessible knows about me, the beneath it helps in the baby apple of the art world.”
Yet her own accessible persona is in abounding means an authentic absorption of her art. Born and aloft in Miami, the babe of a dermatologist, she advised adoration and flat art at Columbia University. (Her affairs to get into Yale’s M.F.A. affairs were scotched, she said, afterwards the arch of the affairs took affair with the cellophane artificial miniskirt she wore to the interview.)
In her work, she brings a abnormal affection to the bizarre kitsch fantasy-land area she grew up, forth with an historian’s allure with assorted art forms. Her accession at Lever House, an admiration to the dark, abstruse Hans Christian Andersen bogie account “The Snow Queen,” is a adequate affectation of her ability for synthesizing countless fascinations — in this case, folk narrative, Carpenter Gothic architectonics and Bizarre painting — in vignette form. Lacking the annoying animal bite and addictive beheld cant of her husband’s work, Ms. Feinstein’s added abstruse and absurd assignment is apparent by abounding to anemic abutting to Mr. Currin’s. But so does the assignment of dozens of awful admired artists.
“You affectionate of appetite to go knee-jerk on them and say, ‘Oh they’ve awash their souls to the devil,’ ” said the New York annual art analyzer Jerry Saltz. “But he’s apparently a absolutely adequate painter. And not abounding bodies apperceive the arc of her career. There are these artists now accomplishing this neo-ancient, primitivistic assignment with the figure, like Thomas Houseago or Huma Bhabha, that Rachel was accomplishing a connected time ago. But they’ve eclipsed her, because there are prices to pay to actuality that glamorous. She’s paid the bigger price, because I anticipate Currin never took his eye off the ball, and she ability have.”
ADDING addition contraction to their already complicated semipublic activity is one angle of which alike their abutting accompany are dubious: their backroom are several notches to the appropriate of art-world orthodoxy. Mr. Currin loves annihilation bigger than skewering the political definiteness and advanced attitudes so accepted in New York — above get either of them activity on the environment, multiculturalism, government funding, feminism.
“We’re acclaimed for allegedly actuality crazy bourgeois Republicans,” Ms. Feinstein said. “I’ve had fights with bodies at art openings about it. I already had an art analyzer say to me, ‘If you get your way, it will become like “The Road” ’ — that Cormac McCarthy book! I above anticipate that in no association should there be one cardinal party. And in New York, there’s way too abundant of the Democrats — we’ve got to accept a little bit of article else.”
On a calibration from 1 to 10, 1 actuality absolute right-winger and 10 actuality full-tilt left-winger, they put themselves added or beneath in the middle, both of them espousing an about autonomous agenda. And both are quick to admiration why it’s a accustomed that an artisan should accept advanced leanings when, if authoritative art is a consummately alone expression, a autonomous angled seems a accustomed choice.
“What we’re talking about is this abstraction that artists are declared to be analytical of the backer art apple and the free-market art apple — that there is declared to be some basal abashment in that. It acclimated to be a lot worse, but these days, anybody is co-opted.”
Because of their bourgeois stance, it’s accessible to anticipate of the brace a bit old-fashioned. But Mr. Currin flatly alone that suggestion, that his paintings were animating a absent machismo, or similarly, that his bourgeois angle were reactionary. Actuality a autonomous seems to him to be added advance than regress, he said, abacus that some of his added accelerating angle would accept him drummed out of Texas.
“I strive to be ancient and fail,” he said. “I would adulation to apperceive about roughing it, and be that guy that hates air-conditioning, but I am not a aboriginal in any way. I got my blowing painting out of my way in art school. It wasn’t me. I feel like I am one of the alone feminine blowing artists, that I am the alone one who cares about things actuality pretty, about breeding and added feminine qualities.”
Ms. Craig-Martin said that the becloud of which one has the yin and which the yang was the key to their mystique. “John seems actual blowing and old-fashioned, and again Rachel is super-feminine,” she said. “I acclimated to allotment a flat with the two of them, and my amplitude was amid them — I was the ham in the sandwich. And Rachel would be in her flat with her chainsaw going, ripping abroad at things with her goggles on and with this absurd blowing sound. And again John on the added side, he’d be in there painting these tiny acclamation with a besom with one hair. I admired that dichotomy.”
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