Friday, August 04, 2006

"Kathy on a Pedestal" (2000) by Lisa Yuskavage

Lisa Yuskavage is represented by good New York galleries, has had several prestigious fellowships and earns steady kudos from the critical press. "Moreover,", according to Richard Vine, "she has garnered these rewards by doing just two simple, mildly naughty things: using her exceptional facility to produce knowingly dreadful paintings, and trafficking in exaggerated versions of what she takes to be typical male sexual fantasies."

Lisa Yuskavage may be the most controversial painter of her generation. Her loaded subject matter have been referred to as "outrageous quasi-pornographic sirens" "anatomically impossible bimbos." Her painting style has been described as "trying hard to make a travesty of the medium" while others including many of the top critics of the day find her virtuosity unassailable. The artist herself admires Vermeer and Degas. Chuck Close has called her work "beautifully painted" and he conducted an interview with her for her catalogue.

She is working in the minefield of male sexual fantasies seen from a woman's perspective. "Kathy" is a friend of the artist who has been the model for the artist's blonde bombshell, a character she calls "Motherfucker". One of the five "bad habits" (Socialclimber, Asspicker, Headshrinker, Foodeater) she personifies in her paintings. "My work has always been about things in myself that I feel incredibly uncomfortable with and embarrassed by. I exploit what's dangerous and scares me about myself."


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