“Virtually all paintings of the female nude I can think of fall into one of two categories: object of desire (sometimes expressed in inverted form as object of repulsion) or an attempt to subvert that tradition. I wondered if it would be possible to paint the female nude in such a way that it didn’t conform to one of those modes, was impossible to easily categorize, and would therefore seem strange in that it baffled conventional understandings of the genre. Strangeness, in that sense, is an attribute of paintings that I highly value: it is the result of an artist in one altering a viewer’s relationship to familiar subject matter."

Kurt Kauper’s body of work mostly constitutes of portraits of familiar cultural icons, such as opera divas, hockey players, and presidents, seen in a variety of unfamiliar ways. Kauper employs an astonishing technique, combining his reverence for the old masters with a contemporary subject matter. His work layers historical and contemporary traditions, incorporating both elevated and vernacular subject matter. He subverts his seemingly academic style with a radical, but subtle vanguard sensibility. The effect of his paintings is uncanny. They hover in an indeterminate state between reality and artifice. An uneasy balance between opposing concepts: real and unreal, representation and abstraction, and most interestingly, avant-garde and kitsch. Kauper’s characteristic style shows his unique and original approach to painting.


Kurt Kauper received his MFA from UCLA, Los Angeles in 1995 and his works have since been the subject of many exhibitions worldwide, both group and solo. His works are also included in the public collections of The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; The Whitney Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; The Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, CA; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.