Lisa Yuskavage’s second solo show with David Zwirner Gallery opened on February 19th in Chelsea, the first of three Zwirner openings over the next two weeks. Yuskavage, a graduate of Yale’s illustrious MFA program, is a certified art star: she’s been profiled in mainstream press like Vanity Fair and W, and her work is collected by the likes of Charles Saatchi and Jean-Pierre Lehmann. In addition to her current solo exhibition at David Zwirner, Lisa Yuskavage is part of two group shows in early 2009: “Diana and Actaeon: The Forbidden Glimpse of the Naked Body” at the Stiftung Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany and “Paint Made Flesh” at the The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN.
The World’s Best Ever: Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner
Exhibition page: Solo show by Lisa Yuskavage
Profile: Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner Lisa Yuskavage
Previously on ArtObserved: AO Roundup: 2008 Frieze Art Fair, Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips London Auctions Lisa Yuskavage New P
Lisa Yuskavage New Paintings at David Zwirner
533 West 19th Street, New York, NY
Open Tues – Sat, 10am to 6pm
more after the jump…
Yuskavage paints her subjects in a manner akin to salon painting – her work does not exist in a vacuum, rather, it demands an audience. Just as her girls regard themselves with bliss, wonder, or complete vapidity, the paintings are meant to evoke a reaction. And Yuskavage’s work is so polarizing that she was destined for art tabloid heaven. MoMA bought a canvas or two, Yuskavage became known as the “bad girl” of the 90s art supernova, collectors started paying seven figures, and she dumped her longtime gallerist to pick up with a new one, David Zwirner.
The New York-based painter is alternately panned and praised by critics for her cartoonish, borderline pornographic depictions of women. She’s often aligned with contemporary (and fellow Yale classmate) John Currin, who, as critic Jerry Saltz wrote, is the “Botticelli” to Yuskavage’s “Vermeer or Raphael.” The current show, a collection of new paintings completed since 2007, is clearly the work of the boundary-pushing artist, thought it represents a noticeable change in tone and depth. After all, how long can someone paint splayed legs, big breasts, and exposed genitals before they are no longer provocative or sexy? Yuskavage’s painterly strokes are in full evidence, as well as the signature busty ladies, though something is amiss. Instead of her typical gauzy, pastel hues, green-tinted shades of mustard and brown permeate the canvases. An ominous narrative strings together several of the works, and an island of rocks, striped socks, and a baby are all recurring images in the series.Perhaps the greatest departure is that Yuskavage obscures the girls’ faces in three of the paintings. Nor is it simply any abstracted figuration, the visages have been desecrated with a pie to the face. This throwback to slapstick comedy, combined with pornographic undertones, is aggressive and unsettling, and far removed from the frivolity and naivety often ascribed to Lisa Yuskavage.
Words by Kelsey Keith Pictures courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery and Art Observed