Widely associated with a re-emergence of the figurative in contemporary painting, Lisa Yuskavage has developed her own genre of portraiture in which lavish, erotic, vulgar, angelic women (and more recently men) are cast within fantastical landscapes or dramatically lit interiors. Seamlessly blending pop cultural imagery, color theory, and psychology, Yuskavage draws on classical and modern painterly techniques and, in particular, marshals color as a conduit for complex psychological constructs. As Christopher Bedford describes, Yuskavage's paintings "are disarmingly present, even naked in their address, laying themselves bare for inspection not because they are exacting and slavish in their depictions, but instead because they hold little if anything back. Yet for all their nakedness, the worlds depicted are just that—worlds—and they are fundamentally distant from our own. The strength of the invitation to look at these paintings and what, in turn, they extend in exchange is exactly as forceful as the world of meaning and implication that is palpable in every brushstroke, yet just slightly out of reach. This collision of clarity of presentation and elusiveness of meaning constitutes [their] central, beguiling axis."¹
Born in 1962 in Philadelphia, Yuskavage received her B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in 1984 and her M.F.A. from the Yale University 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 and 2011. Marking her fourth gallery solo show was an exhibition of new works at David Zwirner, New York in 2015.
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 Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (organized as part of the Dublin Contemporary 2011); Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2006); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2002); Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva (2001); and the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2000).
Museum collections which hold works by the artist include The Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Long Museum, Shanghai; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Yuskavage lives and works in New York.
¹ Christopher Bedford, "Color Theorist," in Lisa Yuskavage: The Brood - Paintings 1991-2015. Exh. cat. (New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2015), p. 13.
Above: Photo by Jason Schmidt