“A Painter Who Wants Art to Shock”
“If you’ve seen her outré canvases, you understand why she has to shed her inhibitions. Yuskavage, a masterful colorist, makes lush, luminous, intentionally—and delightfully—gauche paintings that unsettle facile notions of misogyny, femininity and the female gaze. Her Bad Babies series, Technicolor studies created in the early ’90s of plaintive Manga-like pubescent girls depicted naked from the waist down, earned her a reputation as a provocateur when she was just a few years out of Yale’s MFA painting program. Another early work, Rorschach Blot (1995), encapsulated Yuskavage’s psychosexual shtick in a single image: a cartoonish blonde, knees splayed, reveals the entirety of her nether regions, rendered by the painter as a sort of lewd exclamation point. For a later series done in the late ’90s and early 2000s, she mined Bob Guccione’s ’70s-era Penthouse pinups for source material, a choice she says she may never live down (it’s a sticky fact people tend to associate with her: ‘“Isn’t she the chick that does the Penthouse paintings?”’ she mimics). The market for her work is robust, and many critics are in her corner, but detractors tend to be vitriolic. A 2007 headline in the Washington Post framed the debate in no uncertain terms: ‘Lisa Yuskavage: critiquing prurient sexuality, or disingenuously peddling a soft-porn aesthetic?’”
Read the full feature—including an interview with the artist—in T The New York Times Style Magazine.
Lisa Yuskavage: Wilderness opens at Aspen Art Museum on February 16.
Image: Lisa Yuskavage in her Brooklyn studio, 2020 (detail). Photo by Jason Schmidt