Focus On: Julie Curtiss
Miami— August 2, 2021— Julie Curtiss (b. 1982) is a French-Vietnamese artist based in Brooklyn, NY. According to the Financial Times, the young artist has been sending the art world into a frenzy for the past few years with her ‘Magritte-esque substitutions’ that disrupt female archetypes. Curtiss’s attractive and powerful visual style draws on a history of figurative painting that include 18th- and 19th-century French painting, as well as the Chicago Imagists and the ‘pop’ imagery of comic books, manga, and illustration.
Curtiss’ artwork features a wide range of media including painting, drawing, sculpture, and prints. She applies different treatments and textures, finely mixed in precise strokes of flat planes of vivid colors to achieve a surreal effect. Her subject matters center on the female body. By deconstructing and fragmenting details, she explores themes that emerge from surrealist elements of modern life and creates abnormal situations. For instance, in her food-based images, Curtiss presents objects that are simultaneously seductive and repulsive, showing traditional food subjects that upon closer look uncover symbols of stereotyped ‘femininity’ such as long nails, flowing hair or high heels. Curtiss has stated that she likes to associate “humor with darkness, the uncanny and the mundane, grotesque shapes to vivid colors.” Curtiss’s faceless female figures are also a recurrent subject in her work.
Curtiss has been causing much excitement in the art world with her works. Her rise has been rapid. In 2015, when she was ‘first discovered’ at the Spring/Break Art Fair in New York City in 2015 she was, as she puts it, “a nobody.” Fast forward to 2019, she was selling at Phillips New York with Princess (2016) and at Christie’s Auction House with Pas de Trois (2018) making twice a personal record on the secondary market, in the latter surpassing around three times the estimated price. More recently in 2021 at Phillips Contemporary art evening sale, Curtiss yet again reached a new personal record with Three Widows (2016) selling for $466,200. Zoë Klemme, a Christie’s specialist, who presided over one of Curtiss’s secondary-market sales said that Curtiss’s buyer demographic was wider than expected. “It’s not just the young crowd,” Klemme stated, “Julie really does talk to a wide range of collectors, including very established clients.”
Julie Curtiss’s work has been acquired by prominent museum collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum and the Walker Art Center. Curtiss received her BA and MFA from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France.
Photo: Portrait of Julie Curtiss by Bryan Derballa