For more than thirty years, Lisa Yuskavage's (b. 1962) highly original approach to figurative painting has challenged conventional understandings of the genre and influenced subsequent generations of artists. Her simultaneously bold, eccentric, exhibitionist, and introspective characters assume dual roles of subject and object, complicating the position of viewership. At times playful and harmonious, and at other times rueful and conflicted, these characters are cast within fantastical compositions in which realistic and abstract elements coexist and color determines meaning. While the artist's painterly techniques evoke art historical precedents, her motifs are often inspired by popular culture, creating an underlying dichotomy between high and low and, by implication, sacred and profane, harmony and dissonance. Yet her oeuvre compellingly resists categorization, insisting instead on its own kind of emotional formalism in which characters and pictorial inventions assume equal importance.
Born in 1962 in Philadelphia, Yuskavage received her BFA from the Tyler School of Art in 1984 and her MFA from the Yale School of Art in 1986. Since 2005, the artist’s work has been represented by David Zwirner. In 2006, two solo exhibitions were concurrently presented at David Zwirner and Zwirner & Wirth, New York, followed by presentations at the gallery in 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2017. Babie Brood, Small paintings 1985-2018 and New Paintings, the two-part exhibition on view in 2018, marked her sixth gallery solo show. In 2021, a solo exhibition of new work by the artist was on view at David Zwirner, New York.
In 2015, The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, presented Lisa Yuskavage: The Brood, a major solo exhibition spanning twenty-five years of the artist’s work. The show traveled to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in 2016. A large-scale, comprehensive publication by Skira Rizzoli, published on occasion of the exhibition, created in close collaboration with Yuskavage, includes texts by renowned art historians, curators, and writers including Christopher Bedford, Suzanne Hudson, Catherine Lord, and Siddhartha Mukherjee, as well as an interview with the artist by Katy Siegel.
Yuskavage’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions worldwide, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2000); Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva (2001); Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2006); and The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2011; organized as part of Dublin Contemporary 2011).
Lisa Yuskavage: Wilderness was on view at the Aspen Art Museum in 2020 and the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2021.
Museum collections which hold works by the artist include the Art Institute of Chicago; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Long Museum, Shanghai; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Rubell Museum, Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Seattle Art Museum; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Yuskavage lives and works in New York.
David Zwirner is pleased to present its first exhibition with Lisa Yuskavage in Paris. This will be the artist’s eighth solo show with the gallery.
One of the most original figurative artists of the past three decades, Yuskavage creates works that affirm the singularity of the medium of painting just as they challenge conventional understandings of genres and viewership. At once exhibitionist and introspective, her varied characters are cast within layered compositions of realistic and abstract elements in which color determines meaning. While the artist’s painterly techniques evoke art-historical precedents, her motifs are often inspired by popular culture, creating an underlying dichotomy between high and low, and, by implication, sacred and profane, harmony and dissonance.
For this exhibition, Yuskavage presents new large-scale paintings, each set within an artist’s studio. Saturated in deep, jewel-like pigments of red, green, and yellow, these works form part of Yuskavage’s ongoing exploration of the processes of art making and the question of what constitutes a model. The studios become stages where characters from throughout her oeuvre—including the artist herself—are intertwined, and where time moves backward and forward at once. As such, Yuskavage’s paintings create a dialogue between her own subjective experience as artist and model, and a tradition of studio portrayals by artists such as Gustave Courbet and Henry Matisse that are both uniquely personal and reflective of a specific moment in time. Yuskavage’s explicit subjects and her distinctive approach to color—which recalls an American tradition of color-field painting—invite further dialogues with the history of impressionist and post-impressionist art, imagining and reimagining the circumstances that shape painter and painted alike.
From August 26 through December 3, 2022 at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, the exhibition Necessary Angels: Jesse Murry & Lisa Yuskavage explores the bonds of the creative friendship of the two artists, who met while attending Yale School of Art. Besides giving proof to the idea that artistic friendship can transcend simple influence and achieve higher dimensions of collaboration spurred on by mutual learning, respect, and love, Necessary Angels features rarely seen paintings on paper by Murry and celebrated paintings and watercolors by Yuskavage.
Organized by USFCAM Curator-at-Large Christian Viveros-Fauné, the exhibition constitutes only the second time since their Yale 1986 MFA thesis show that Murry's and Yuskavage's work has been presented under the same roof. It coincides with an interrelated exhibition at USFCAM, Jesse Murry: Rising, co-curated by Lisa Yuskavage and Jarrett Earnest, which originated at David Zwirner in New York in the fall of 2021.
Learn more at USFCAM.
Studio is an online series highlighting recent works by gallery artists. Focusing on a different solo project each time, the series situates artists’ work in their current studio practices through personal snapshots, audio/video recordings, and reference materials.
This presentation introduces three recent paintings by Lisa Yuskavage that embody her unique approach. In their classical formal qualities and their dialogue with both pop culture and art history, Yuskavage’s works resist categorization, insisting instead on their own kind of emotional formalism in which characters and pictorial inventions assume equal importance.
Unsentimental Education: Lisa Yuskavage and Jarrett Earnest in Conversation
Celebrating the recent publication Lisa Yuskavage: Babie Brood, Small Paintings, 1985–2018, the artist will be in conversation with critic and curator Jarrett Earnest, who contributed a text to the book. They will discuss the dynamics of education for artists, their shared interest in psychoanalysis and how it relates to writing and painting, and the role of narrative within art, memory, and history.
Tuesday, February 25, 6:30 PM
McNally Jackson (Seaport), New York
In his text for the new monograph, Earnest analyzes the artist’s early education, both in art schools and life experiences, setting the stage for a lifetime of painting. Their relationship sparked in 2014 when Yuskavage dropped in on Earnest’s class “Object Lessons” at the Bruce High Quality Foundation, the now closed experimental free art school in the East Village. They swiftly became friends and collaborators, embarking on a multi-year interview project.
A major solo exhibition titled Lisa Yuskavage: Wilderness opens at Aspen Art Museum on February 16.
Image: Lisa Yuskavage: Babie Brood, Small Paintings 1985–2018, 2019
Lisa Yuskavage in Conversation with Christian Viveros-Fauné
March 12, 2019
Lisa Yuskavage was in conversation with writer Christian Viveros-Fauné about painting and politics. Using Yuskavage's recent Babie Brood: Small Paintings 1985-2018 exhibition and Viveros-Fauné's new book, Social Forms: A Short History of Political Art as starting points, their conversation explored moments of political crisis and the ways in which they are reflected and preserved in relevant artworks, including those by Yuskavage and by artists who have influenced her practice.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 6:30 PM
New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture
The discussion was followed by a book signing of Social Forms. Harper’s Bazaar Arabia calls the book a "compelling resource to how artists over the past one hundred and fifty years have handled, challenged, and interpreted shifting systems of politics, conflict, consumerism, inequality, and technology."
Lisa Yuskavage was in conversation with Christopher Bedford, the Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director of The Baltimore Museum of Art, about her work.
Tuesday, November 27, 7 PM (free and open to the public)
Pratt Institute School of Architecture, Higgins Hall
Two solo exhibitions by Yuskavage are on view at David Zwirner in New York through December 15, 2018. Organized in close collaboration with the artist, Babie Brood: Small Paintings 1985–2018 at 533 West 19th Street presents an extensive survey of Yuskavage’s small-scale paintings. A constant and integral part of Yuskavage’s overall practice, the small paintings play a remarkably dynamic and protean role within it. New Paintings at 34 East 69th Street features a group of new large-scale canvases relating to the artist’s recent "Couples" paintings. These charged depictions of often interlocking, interdependent male and female figures developed out of the artist's series of "symbiotic" portraits from the early 2000s that paired two female figures to evoke a sense of a dual manifestation of a single personality.
To coincide with these exhibitions, David Zwirner presents an online Viewing Room highlighting Yuskavage’s printmaking practice.
In 2020, The Baltimore Museum of Art and the Aspen Art Museum will co-organize a solo presentation of the artist’s work.
The fourth episode of Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast features Yuskavage in conversation with widely celebrated screenwriter and film director Tamara Jenkins. Counterparts and close friends, Yuskavage and Jenkins discuss how personal experiences inform their creativity—touching on dark comedy, eroticism, and the importance of trusting your own vision.
A conversation about giving a voice to untold stories that draws on Jane Campion, Philip Guston, and the raw authenticity of human emotion.
The fourth episode of Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast features painter Lisa Yuskavage—known for her portraits of nude figures and her skillful control of color—in conversation with widely celebrated screenwriter and film director Tamara Jenkins. Counterparts and close friends, Yuskavage and Jenkins discuss how personal experiences inform their creativity—touching on dark comedy, eroticism, and the importance of trusting your own vision.
View new large-scale canvases and a survey of small-scale paintings by Lisa Yuskavage in her forthcoming exhibitions, opening this November, at David Zwirner’s Chelsea and Upper East Side locations.
Watch Tamara Jenkins’s newest film, Private Life, in theaters this October.
The next episode of Dialogues will feature Marcel Dzama talking with musician and composer Will Butler of Arcade Fire. The series is hosted by Lucas Zwirner, Editorial Director of David Zwirner Books.
Produced in partnership with Slate Studios, Dialogues: The David Zwirner Podcast is the latest installment in a series of initiatives celebrating the gallery’s twenty-fifth anniversary, which launched in January 2018 with a multi-gallery retrospective in New York and the opening of David Zwirner Hong Kong. “While this year marks an important milestone for the gallery, we continue to look and move forward, whether it be opening a new gallery or exploring new mediums,” says David Zwirner. “This is one of the many digital initiatives we are embarking on, to both engage with new audiences and further our artists’ voices.”
Image: Lisa Yuskavage in Studio D at Slate Media studios, New York, July 2018. Photo by Zac Casto
Tell Me Something Good: Artist Interviews from The Brooklyn Rail brings together 60 of the New York-based journal's most important interviews, and includes conversations with gallery artists Suzan Frecon, Richard Serra, Luc Tuymans, and Lisa Yuskavage. Selected and co-edited by Jarrett Earnest, a frequent Brooklyn Rail contributor, and Lucas Zwirner, Editorial Director at David Zwirner Books, Tell Me Something Good includes an introduction to the project by Phong Bui as well as hand-drawn portraits of all the artists interviewed for the book. Published by David Zwirner Books
The Brood surveyed 25 years of Lisa Yuskavage's work and was her first solo museum exhibition in the United States in more than 15 years. The exhibition was organized around diptychs, triptychs, and multi-panel groupings the artist calls "symbiotic portraits." The Brood was first on view at The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and then traveled to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
Listen to Yuskavage lead an audio tour of the exhibition.
Published to accompany the major solo exhibition by Lisa Yuskavage that was presented at The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University in Massachusetts and at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in 2015-2016, The Brood explores more than two decades of the artist's work.
Created in close collaboration with the artist, this fully illustrated publication includes texts by Christopher Bedford, who curated the exhibition during his directorship at The Rose Art Museum, Suzanne Hudson, Catherine Lord, and Siddhartha Mukherjee, and features an interview with the artist by Katy Siegel.
"Ultimately," writes Bedford in his essay Color Theorist, "Lisa Yuskavage's paintings are about the experience of the world we know through the prism of a studio known only to the artist. Hers are paintings of the mind that emerge as raw, public propositions from the most private of spaces. Her glowing green planets and deep red figures are not of the world we know, but they are familiar enough. As the artist herself notes, with just as much pungency as her literary predecessor Kafka, 'They are about chumming the water, giving people a taste of what they might not even know that they want.'"
The Artist Project is an online series produced by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which gives artists the opportunity to respond to the museum's encyclopedic collection. The Met invited Lisa Yuskavage to participate in the third season of the project. In the video, she chose to discuss Édouard Vuillard's The Green Interior. "What makes the painting truly interesting is how it's painted. The painting is screaming, that color is screaming."
Celebrating the recent publication Babie Brood: Small Paintings, 1985–2018, join Lisa Yuskavage for two events next week in New York.
Tuesday, December 3, 6–8 PM
Bookmarc, New York
Yuskavage will be signing copies of her new book at a champagne reception at the Marc Jacobs bookstore.
Wednesday, December 4, 6 PM
Nurse Bettie, New York
Join Yuskavage and the art critic, art historian and poet Barry Schwabsky for a discussion about Babie Brood and Schwabsky’s new book The Observer Effect.
Wednesday, December 11, 7 PM
Brooklyn | Spoonbill & Sugartown
Yuskavage will be signing copies of Babie Brood in Brooklyn at independent bookstore Spoonbill and Sugartown.
Image: A spread from Babie Brood: Small Paintings, 1985–2018, 2019
As part of an ongoing program of talks featuring visiting artists, curators, and guest lecturers, Lisa Yuskavage was in conversation with Aspen Art Museum Director Heidi Zuckerman. Their discussion explored Yuskavage’s practice and looked ahead to the artist’s solo exhibition at the museum in 2020.
Thursday, August 1, 2019, 5 PM (free and open to the public)
Aspen Art Museum, 637 East Hyman Ave
Yuskavage is the recipient of the 2019 Aspen Award for Art, which is being presented during the fifteenth annual ArtCrush summer benefit on August 2.
The artist was profiled in the Wall Street Journal Magazine on the occasion of concurrent exhibitions at David Zwirner in New York last year—Babie Brood: Small Paintings 1985–2018, the first survey of her small-scale work, and New Paintings, which presented eight new large-scale paintings at the gallery's 69th Street location.