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b. 1962, USA

Lisa Yuskavage Biography

New York-based Lisa Yuskavage (b. 1962, Philadelphia) is a figurative painter minutely versed in the history of the medium, channelling artists from Francisco de Goya to Édouard Vuillard and Philip Guston in her ostensibly kitschy canvases. With references also ranging from old master paintings to 1970s soft porn, her paintings are immediately recognisable for their absurdly proportioned naked and semi-clad women, but also for acid-bright landscapes, uncanny interiors and hippie figures that seem to have been cross-pollinated with religious icons. She sensitively deploys colour to convey the emotional states of her figures who appear alone, in pairs or in tableaux, and who in more recent times, have begun to include men. In addition to the figures' delight in their own fleshiness, there is also an overpowering sense of otherworldliness at play in her use of colour and form.

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Yuskavage earned her BFA at Tyler School of Art, Temple University in 1984 and her MFA at Yale University School of Art in 1986. Her breakthrough came in the early 90s, with The Ones That Shouldn't: The Gifts (1991) and the ‘The Ones That Don't Want To’ series (1991–2), the latter of which the artist also refers to as her ‘Bad Babies’. The earlier work shows a large-breasted young woman emerging from a rich green background with a sprig of flowers stuffed in her mouth and her arms pulled behind her back. ‘The Ones That Don’t Want To’ paintings, meanwhile, are shockingly vibrant portraits of girls naked from the waist down, who appear to be merging with their pulsating backgrounds and stare (with the exception of one slightly more dreamy figure) disconcertingly at the viewer. Rising to prominence around the same time as other figurative painters such as Elizabeth Peyton and John Currin, in the 1990s Yuskavage commanded solo shows at galleries in New York, Santa Monica, Milan and London. In 2000, she held an important solo in her hometown of Philadelphia, at the Institute of Contemporary Art. ‘I confirmed for myself that she paints wonderfully, and that wonderful painting is what concerns her,’ wrote Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker at the time. Notable other solo exhibitions have taken place at Centre d'Art Contemporain, Geneva (2001); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2002); Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2006); and The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2011). A major survey spanning 25 years of of Yuskavage’s work titled The Brood opened at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University in 2015 (12 September–13 December 2015), and later traveled to Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (15 January–3 April 2016). An in-depth book was published by Skira Rizzoli in association with the Rose Art Museum.

Yuskavage’s work is held in the collections of 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.

Laura Allsop

Lisa Yuskavage Featured Artworks

Forces by Lisa Yuskavage contemporary artwork
Lisa YuskavageForces, 2007Four colour lithograph on BFK Rives paper
37 7/8 x 30 1/8 inches
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Art Students by Lisa Yuskavage contemporary artwork
Lisa YuskavageArt Students, 2018Intaglio with chine-collé on Ivory Revere Suede paper
16 1/8 x 13 7/8 inches
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Merlot by Lisa Yuskavage contemporary artwork
Lisa YuskavageMerlot, 2017Intaglio with chine-collé on Ivory Revere Suede paper
16 1/8 x 13 7/8 inches
David Zwirner Contact Gallery

Lisa Yuskavage Recent Exhibitions

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Lisa Yuskavage Represented By

David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in 19th Street, New York, USA David Zwirner New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong

Lisa Yuskavage In Ocula Magazine

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