Lisa Yuskavage - Artist's portrait, 2014 - Image via artisprojectmetmuseumorg

Lisa Yuskavage/ Lisa Yuskavage

United States 1962

Painting

Lisa Yuskavage
Lisa Yuskavage
Female
United States
1962

Re-introducing the figurative into the contemporary painting starting from the tawdriness of today’s life determined and deeply imbued with mass media and the psycho-social realm of the individual, Lisa Yuskavage has developed a distinctive approach and her own genre of female nude. Her lavish, erotic, and cartoonish characters, placed in fantastical landscapes or scenic interior narcissistically contemplate themselves and their bodies, tempting the viewer’s imagination. Using the traditional oil painting and historical themes as the background base for the wild inventions and liberal imagination, Yuskavage is recognized as a feminist painter who explores social identities and conventions through depictions of women’s bodies, strong in their frank sensuality.

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Lisa Yuskavage – Wilderness, 2009 – Image via brandeis.edu

The First Solo Show and Quest for Appropriate Expression

Yuskavage was born in 1962 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she studied the Tyler School of Art at Temple University spending one year in Rome through the school’s program. After that, she received her MFA from the Yale School of Art in 1986[1]. Developing the style since the early 1990’s, her work is characterized by often nude, angelic but provocative young women represented in the partly fictional blurred surrounding. Re-entering the figurative into the contemporary painting, her complex, loaded with tension narratives reveals themselves slowly in front of the viewer. Encompassing various genres, from still life and landscape to portrait and nude, the artist applies techniques ingrained in Renaissance, but also in modern approaches as the Color Field Painting, finding diverse inspiration from artists like Giovanni Bellini, Johannes Vermeer, or Edgar Degas. Having the mixed reactions, the critics respond to her paintings with diverse interpretations, from explanations that include terms like alienation and affection, vulgarity or self-loathing to associations with psychologically encouraged theories of viewing, particularly the one of a gaze. Still, they are right about one thing: her complex narratives and perplexed content enveloped in an air of mysticism surely deny singular interpretation.

His first solo show, held at Pamela Auchincloss Gallery in New York was a culmination of her student ideas and although achieved commercial success, the artist hated it so badly that she stopped painting for one year. She felt like she attended the exhibition of a person she was pretending to be and not the real her, a girl from a working-class family who had a lot of crazy energy that she obviously didn’t know how to transfer into the paintings. Considering art as something for the “classy” people, Yuskavage tried to be one of them, facing the truth on that show when she comprehended herself as a fraud. She spent next year just walking around SoHo, looking at art, visiting film festivals and reading at the New York Public Library. Although depressed and convinced in an idea of wasting her own time, she was actually building the basis for her future profession, discovering who she really was.

Lisa Yuskavage’s work encompasses various genres, from still life and landscape to portrait and nude

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Lisa Yuskavage – The Verdigris Farm, 2012 – Image via brandeis.edu

The Art of Lisa Yuskavage

As a symbol of her rebel character of a tough girl, Yuskavage chose to paint women putting her unusual subject matter as the opposite to her education reflected in Caravaggio’s lighting by the hidden light sources, Raphael’s Renaissance theories about perspective and Van Gogh’s and Philip Guston’s cartoonish figures. Already determined as a feminist painter, she suddenly decided to consider male subjects, creating the series of tall and skinny men in classic contrapposto postures, for the first time exhibited in New York in 2015. Noticing the lack of Christian iconography in contemporary art, Yuskavage made a decision a long time ago that if she ever paints man, that would be Jesus and his friends. Keeping her promise, she made Dude Looks Like Jesus, painted nude, staring at the viewer, while Dude of Sorrows, represented in close-up, has curly hair resembling halo and bruise on his eye. Focusing on single subjects and neutral spaces in her early pieces, her more recent body of work has more layers, characterized by a richer complexity. Starting with a monochrome palette and various hues of one color and connecting it to a mono-figure, she completely changed the approach[2]. Also, work from the early 1990’s was entirely fictional and imagined without any sources, but only from her everyday life. Eventually, she realized that imagination wasn’t enough, employing the real porn and later real people, like her friend Kathy as an embodiment of the girls who lived only in her head until then. It’s long past the time when people wondered if Lisa Yuskavage’s paintings should be hidden or hung up on the museum walls. Always drawing a lot of attention, her New York show (2015) was sold out even before the opening, while one of her pieces reached the price of more than $1 million.

Her new body of work includes male figure

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Lisa Yuskavage – Travellers, 2008 (Left) / Dude of Sorrows, 2015 (Right) – Images via huffingtonpost.com and wsj.com

Entering the Gallery and Museum Spaces

Yuskavage’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group shows worldwide, at numerous prominent institutions and galleries such as David Zwirner, New York (2015, 2011, 2009, and 2006), Greengrassi, London (2013, 2010, 2007, 2004, 2002, and 1999), The Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin (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). It is also included in the museum collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, MoMA New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, among the others. Her great solo show that spanned twenty-five years of her artistic career has been held at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in 2016, followed by publication by Skira Rizzoli[3]. The significance of her oeuvre and her attribution to the contemporary art scene was confirmed several times by notable awards and honors, including the Temple University Gallery of Success Award (2005); Founder’s Day Certificate of Honor, Tyler School of Art, Temple University (2000), The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (1995), MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1994), and the Zimtbaum Foundation Fellowship, Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, Massachusetts (1986).

The artist is represented by David Zwirner Gallery.

Lisa Yuskavage currently lives and works in New York.

References:

  1. Anonymous. Lisa Yuskavage. L. Yuskavage [September 6, 2016]
  2. De la Tore, M. (2011) Interview, Bomb Magazine [September 6, 2016]
  3. Crow, K. (2015) Painter Lisa Yuskavage Goes From ‘Vulgar’ Women to Saintly Men, The Wall Street Journal [September 6, 2016]

Featured image: Lisa Yuskavage – Artist’s portrait, 2014 – Image via artisproject.metmuseum.org

YearName of the exhibitionMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2016Lisa Yuskavage: The BroodContemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Saint Louis, MOsolo
2015The Brood (upcoming)The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, Waltham Massachusettssolo
2015Nude (upcoming)Gemeente Museum, The Haguegroup
2015Lisa Yuskavage (upcoming)David Zwirner, New Yorksolo
2015Queensize - Female Artists from the Olbricht Collection (upcoming)me Collectors Room Stiftung Olbricht, Berlingroup
2014NudeGemeentemuseum, The Haguegroup
2014Somos Libres II: Works from the Mario Testino CollectionPinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin group
2014Queensize - Female Artists from the Olbricht Collectionme Collectors Room Stiftung Olbricht, Berlingroup
2014Disturbing InnocenceThe FLAG Art Foundation, New York group
2014SHE: Picturing women at the turn of the 21st centuryDavid Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Islandgroup
2014Love Story: The Anne and Wolfgang Titze CollectionWinter Palace and 21er Haus, Belvedere, Vienna group
2014Spaced Out: Migration to the InteriorRed Bull Studios, New Yorkgroup
2013Expanding the Field of PaintingInstitute of Contemporary Art, Bostongroup
2013Lisa Yuskavagegreengrassi, Londonsolo
2012Haunting Narratives: Detours from Philadelphia Realism, 1935 to the PresentWoodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia group
2012Pittura (1995-2009)Studio Guenzani, Milangroup
2012Print/OutThe Museum of Modern Art, New Yorkgroup
2012The Distaff SideThe Granary, Sharon, Connecticutgroup
2012Decades: Contemporary Collecting 2002-2012Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New Yorkgroup
2012FacesOnassis Cultural Centre, Athens group
2012New to the Print Collection: Matisse to BourgeoisThe Museum of Modern Art, New Yorkgroup
2011Full Circle: The Evolution of Fine Art Printmaking at Universal Limited Art EditionsGardiner Art Gallery, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahomagroup
2011Legacy: Selections from Emily Fisher Landau's Gift to the Whitney Museum of American ArtFisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, New Yorkgroup
2011New York Prints of Mind: Prints from the Universal Limited Art EditionsSchweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, New York group
2011Secret SocietiesSchirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt group
2011American ExuberanceRubell Family Collection, Miami group
2011Lisa YuskavageDavid Zwirner, New Yorksolo
2011Creating the New Century: Contemporary Art from the Dicke CollectionDayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio group
2011Dublin Contemporary 2011: Terrible Beauty – Art, Crisis, Change & The Office of NonComplianceEarlsfort Terrace, Dublingroup
2011Universal Limited Art EditionsAberson Exhibits, Tulsa, Oklahoma group
2011Lisa YuskavageThe Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublinsolo
2010Size Does MatterThe FLAG Art Foundation, New York group
2010Lisa Yuskavagegreengrassi, Londonsolo
2010American Printmaking NowNational Art Museum of China, Beijing group
2010Between Picture and Viewer: The Image in Contemporary PaintingVisual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts, New York group
2010Face to FaceMuseum of Contemporary Art, Vienna group
2010Until Now: Collecting the New (1960-2010)Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesotagroup
2009Universal Limited Art Editions: Then and NowGreenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, Californiagroup
200930th AnniversaryChristopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, Californiagroup
2009Lisa YuskavageDavid Zwirner, New Yorksolo
2009The Female Gaze: Women Look at WomenCheim & Read, New Yorkgroup
2009Bad HabitsAlbright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New Yorkgroup
2009Robert Rauschenberg and His Contemporaries: Recent Prints from Universal Limited Art EditionsHeckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New Yorkgroup
2008Female Forms and Facets: Artwork by Women from 1975 to the PresentCentral Connecticut State University Art Galleries, New Britain, Connecticutgroup
2008The GalleryDavid Zwirner, New Yorkgroup
2008Diana and Actaeon: The Forbidden Glimpse of the Naked Body/Diana und Actaeon: Der verbotene Blick auf die NacktheitMuseum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf group
2008LégendeDomaine départemental de Chamarande, Chamarande, France group
2008Out of Shape: Stylistic Distortions of the Human Form in Art from the Logan CollectionFrances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York group
2008Attention to DetailThe FLAG Art Foundation, New York group
2008Weighing and Wanting: Selections from the CollectionMuseum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, La Jollagroup
2008Bad Painting - good artMuseum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna group
2008Paint Made FleshThe Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee group
2008Happy VacationThrust Projects, New Yorkgroup
2007America Today: 300 Years of Art from the USANational Art Museum of China, Beijing, group
2007Multiplex: Directions in Art 1970 to NowThe Museum of Modern Art, New York, group
2007PaperFisher Landau Center for Art, Long Island City, New Yorkgroup
2007The Present: The Monique Zajfen CollectionStedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, group
2007Lisa Yuskavagegreengrassi, Londonsolo
2007Artist Collaborations: Fifty Years of Universal Limited Art EditionsThe Museum of Modern Art, New York, group
2007Don't Look: Contemporary Drawings from an Alumna’s Collection (Martina Yamin Class of 1958)Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley Collegegroup
2006New WorkDavid Zwirner, New Yorksolo
2006The Other Side #2: Radical Pursuits: Delights in the subversive and sublimeTony Shafrazi Gallery, New York, group
2006Lisa YuskavageMuseo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City solo
2005Girls on FilmZwirner & Wirth, New Yorkgroup
2005Laguna's Hidden Treasures: Art from Private CollectionsLaguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, Californiagroup
2005Post and After: Contemporary Art from the Brandeis CollectionRose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Walthamgroup
2005Drawn Across the Century: Highlights from the Dillard Collection of Art on PaperGallery of Contemporary Art, University of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Coloradogroup
2004Seeing Other PeopleMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorkgroup
2004She’s Come UndoneArtemis Greenberg Van Doren, New Yorkgroup
2004Lisa Yuskavagegreengrassi, Londonsolo
20045th International Biennial: Disparities and DeformationsOur Grotesque, SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fegroup
2004The Charged ImageJoseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Hartfordgroup
2003Self PortraitsDeitch Projects, New Yorkgroup
2003Skowhegan Faculty ExhibitionInstitute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, Portland, Mainegroup
2003Stephen Greene: Painter and TeacherAddison Gallery, Andover, Marylandgroup
2003Supernova: Art of the 1990s from the Logan CollectionSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art, group
2003Terrible BeautyRoebling Hall, New Yorkgroup
2003Lisa YuskavageMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorksolo
2003de Kooning to Today: Highlights from the Permanent CollectionWhitney Museum of American Art, New Yorkgroup
2003Reverie: Works from the Collection of Douglas S. CramerThe Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky group
2002Fusion CuisineDeste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens group
2002Go FigureLUXE, New Yorkgroup
2002Visual Jury 2002 ExhibitionFine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, Massachusettsgroup
2002Lisa Yuskavagegreengrassi, Londonsolo
2002Lisa Yuskavagegreengrassi at The Galleries Show, Royal Academy of Arts, Londonsolo
2002177th Annual: An Invitational ExhibitionNational Academy of Design, New York group
2001Lisa YuskavageMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorksolo
2001WatercolorsStudio Guenzani, Milansolo
2001Arte Contemporaneo InternacionalMuseo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City group
2001Camera Works: The Photographic Impulse in Contemporary ArtsMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorkgroup
2001furor scribendi: Works on PaperAngles Gallery, Los Angelesgroup
2001Lisa YuskavageCentre d’Art Contemporain, Genevasolo
2001Naked Since 1950C&M Arts, New York group
2001Pictures, Patents, Monkeys, and More…On CollectingWestern Washington University, Bellingham, Washingtongroup
2001Works on Paper from Acconci to ZittelVictoria Miro Gallery, Londongroup
2001Lateral ThinkingArt of the 1990s, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diegogroup
2000Lisa YuskavageInstitute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphiasolo
200046th Corcoran Biennial: Media/MetaphorCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.group
2000Drawn From LifeMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorkgroup
2000The Figure: Another Side of ModernismNewhouse Center for Contemporary Art, New Yorkgroup
2000Go FigureNorfolk Public Library, Norfolk, Connecticutgroup
2000Greater New YorkP.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York group
2000A Plurality of TruthsSchick Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springsgroup
2000SalonDelfina Project Space, Londongroup
2000Twisted: Urban Visionary Landscapes in Contemporary PaintingVan Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands group
2000Works on Paper 2000American Ambassador’s Residence, Bratislava, Slovakia group
2000UnknownMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorkgroup
20000Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York group
20002000 Whitney BiennialWhitney Museum of American Art, New York group
1999Invitational Exhibition of Painting and SculptureAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters, New Yorkgroup
1999Lisa Yuskavagegreengrassi, Londonsolo
1999The Nude in Contemporary ArtAldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticutgroup
1999SpellboundKaryn Lovegrove Gallery, Los Angelesgroup
1999The Time of Our LivesNew Museum of Contemporary Art, New York group
19996th Istanbul Biennial: The Passion and the WaveIstanbulgroup
1999Looking at Ourselves: Works by Women Artists From the Logan CollectionSan Francisco Museum of Modern Artgroup
1999Negotiating Small TruthsBlanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin group
1998Lisa YuskavageMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorksolo
1998A Portrait of Our Times: An Introduction to the Logan CollectionSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art group
1998From Here to EternityMax Protetch Gallery, New Yorkgroup
1998Now and LaterYale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticutgroup
1998Risk of ExistencePhyllis Kind Gallery, New Yorkgroup
1998Young Americans 2Saatchi Gallery, London group
1998People Places and ThingsMarianne Boesky Gallery, New Yorkgroup
1998Pop SurrealismAldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut group
1998Presumed InnocenceAnderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmondgroup
1997The Name of the PlaceCasey Kaplan, New Yorkgroup
1997Project PaintingLehmann Maupin and Basilico Fine Arts, New York group
1997SLADapexart, New Yorkgroup
1997Women’s Work: Examining the Feminine in Contemporary PaintingSoutheastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina group
1997My Little Pretty: Images of Girls by Contemporary Women ArtistsMuseum of Contemporary Art Chicago group
1997Lisa YuskavageStudio Guenzani, Milansolo
1996Lisa YuskavageChristopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, California solo
1996Adicere AnimosCesena-Cesenatico, Bologna, Italy group
1996Early LearningL & R Entwistle Ltd., Londongroup
1996Heart's DesireJudy Ann Goldman, Bostongroup
1996IntermissionBasilico Fine Arts, New Yorkgroup
1996Norfolk '96Yale Summer School of Music and Art, Norfolk, Connecticutgroup
1996Rome InvitationalTyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphiagroup
1996The Tailor's DummyChristopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, Californiagroup
1996What I did on my summer vacationWhite Columns, New Yorkgroup
1996Lisa YuskavageBoesky & Callery, New Yorksolo
1995Gang WarfareThe MacKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallasgroup
1995Not Not (Who's There?)E.S. Vandam, New Yorkgroup
1995On BeautyRegina Gallery, Moscow group
1995Pictura ImmediaMalerei in den 90er Jahren, Kunstlerhaus and Neue Galerie, Grazgroup
1995Youth Culture Killed My Dog (But I Don’t Really Mind)Contemporary Arts Council, Chicagogroup
1995Diverse Groupapexart, New York group
1995An Offering to San SimeonChristopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, Californiagroup
1994Don't Postpone Joy or Collecting Can Be FunAustrian Cultural Center, New Yorkgroup
1994Lisa YuskavageLuhring Augustine, New Yorksolo
1994New WorkJohan Jonker Galleria, Amsterdamgroup
1994NY/NL: XXGemeenteligh Helmont Museum, Helmond, The Netherlandsgroup
1994Out West and Back East: New Work from New York and Los AngelesSanta Monica Museum of Art, Californiagroup
1994Up the EstablishmentSonnabend Gallery, New Yorkgroup
1994Lisa YuskavageChristopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, California solo
1994WatercolorsElizabeth Koury, New Yorksolo
1994I Myself and MeThe InterArt Center, New Yorkgroup
1993Lisa YuskavageStudio Guenzani, Milansolo
1993The Figure as Fiction: The Figure in Visual Art and LiteratureContemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio group
1993Medium MessagesWooster Gardens, New Yorkgroup
1993Mr. Serling's NeighborhoodChristopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, Californiagroup
1993The Return of the Cadavre ExquisThe Drawing Center, New Yorkgroup
1993Lisa YuskavageElizabeth Koury, New Yorksolo
1993Yale Collects YaleYale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut group
1992The Anti-MasculineKim Light Gallery, Los Angelesgroup
1992A Paper TrailBerland/Hall Gallery, New Yorkgroup
1992Group ExhibitionElizabeth Koury, New Yorkgroup
1992Little Men/Little WomenWhite Columns, New Yorkgroup
1991Fine Arts Work Benefit ShowTwining Gallery, New Yorkgroup
1991FIAR International Exhibition Rome, Italygroup
1990Lisa YuskavagePamela Auchincloss Gallery, New Yorksolo
1989Juried Show '89New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, Summit, New Jerseygroup
1988Emerging ArtistsWWAC Gallery, Westport, Connecticutgroup
1988Twenty Artists Choose Twenty ArtistsProvincetown Art Museum, Provincetown, Massachusettsgroup
1987New WorkNew Talent, New Haven, Harcus Gallerygroup
1986New TalentAlpha Gallery, Bostongroup