Yuskavage post-a-thon continues

A post by Judith Schaechter

yuskavagefaceRegarding Lisa Yuskavage: I vehemently disagree with Donna Sink’s opinion that “There’s no soul-searching going on in these images, they’re only about “working through that common artist’s problem of having a lean bank account” and that “they’re using common commercial sex-sells imagery under the guise of criticizing that imagery to do it. In other words, they’re no different than Budweiser ads” (Editor–See Donna’s post on Yuskavage on 6/19/03. Other posts on the subject on 6/19/03, 6/6/03 and 6/3/03).

I would never presume to know what’s going on in an artist’s mind based on looking at their work–it’s fairly obvious that art tells you way more about yourself [than about] the artist. venusflytrapMaybe Lisa Yuskavage is rigorously “soul searching” or maybe she was thinking about what’s for dinner. I’m sure many of the great icons of art had less than profound thoughts on their mind when they were creating.

Regardless, it’s been my experience (as a teacher and artist) that most artists are painfully sincere and anyone who goes into the arts to make a buck is a stone cold idiot. The charge that they [Yuskavage’s figure paintings] are the same as Budweiser ads is ludicrous. If anything, Yuskavage’s figures are repulsive parodies of titillation. Has Donna Sink ever really looked at Playboy?


Anyone turned on by Yuskavage’s work will be forced to confront what appears to be a taste for alien, bulbous, duck-faced women in acid color schemes. Their “come hither” poses seems less “Venus” than “Venus Fly Trap” (see image above). Her work doesn’t appeal to me because it seems sarcastic to me at worst and aloof at best.currin

Reading it as a comment on “women’s issues” seems fair enough but somewhat of a dead end–it seems very personal to me–like what it’s really about is how much she hates her own body and by extension, everyone else’s.

I know I just said claiming to know what an artist intended is presumptuous but here goes anyway: maybe as a person Lisa Yuskavage can laugh at her own foibles, but her work (and John Currin’s too) seems to reflect a really harsh, judgmental side (see Currin image left)– unlike savilleJenny Saville (image below), who, I would argue, loves those fat people who are her subjects.


–Judith Schaechter is a Philadelphia artist and writer. You can see her work at Claire Oliver Fine Art (Internet Explorer required for this site!) in New York and at the local online magazine, Missioncreep.