The race to build a robust roster of artists, including some of the world’s most promising young talents, continues apace. Julie Curtiss, who has recently seen her star rise in the art world, is now represented by White Cube gallery, which has locations in London and Hong Kong. Curtiss will continue to work with her New York gallery Anton Kern.
Curtiss, who was included in a group exhibition at White Cube in 2017, is best known for her paintings that offer surreal close-ups of hair, often in forms where it seems to be braided. Sometimes, that hair is shown on the back of a woman’s head, or in a way where it seems to extend to form a row of hanging Peking ducks. Many of her images are infused with a sense of eroticism and also include glimpses of a hand with long, brightly painted acrylic nails. Curtiss’s work draws on the visual language of the Chicago Imagists from the 1960s, in particular the work of Christina Ramberg.
Last May, during a day sale of contemporary art at the Phillips auction house in New York, her 2016 painting, Princess, showing the back of a woman’s head, with her hair tied in large buns reminiscent of Princess Leia from Star Wars, sold for $106,250, well above its high estimate of $8,000. With that sale and a concurrent solo show on view at Anton Kern, Curtiss, who has not yet turned 40, became an artist closely watched by collectors and gallerists, even though her work has not been included in any major biennial exhibitions.
Curtiss, who was born in 1982, is one of the youngest artists to be added to White Cube’s list of artists, which includes Etel Adnan, Dóra Maurer, and the estate of Al Held. As of February 2020, the gallery only has three other artists under 40 on its roster: Michael Armitage, Ibrahim Mahama, and Eddie Peake.
In a statement accompanying the announcement, Curtiss said of her approach to painting, “In my images, I enjoy the complementarity of humor and darkness, the uncanny and the mundane, grotesque shapes and vivid colors.”