I am so happy to write a blog post about Lisa Yuskavage today! She is an artist who is very influential to me (and millions of other feminist artists).
Yuskavage was born in Philly and got her BFA from Tyler school of Art (@ Temple). This is one of the main reasons I looked into the program there! She went on to get her MFA from Yale. For me, I find that her work walks the line between this social construct of femininity and crass erotica, forcing the viewer to acknowledge his/her conceptions on sexuality, gender and identity.
This works are meant to make you uncomfortable, and they succeed. It would be easy to look at Fireplace and launch into a debate on ‘What is pornography and what is art?!’ and although that dialogue would, I suppose be enriching and interesting, I think it would entirely miss the point of the piece. This is a commentary on the social mores and taboos that drive the porn industry. This is the underpinnings, the uncomfortable truths none of us want to see. That’s why they’re so painful to look at.
Patricia Zohn said it quite well in her article, Lisa Yuskavage:The Journey of an Art Star:
“I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to feel seeing these Pamela Anderson-esque nudes fetishized and objectified to within an inch of their hothouse lives. And in a way, I liked that. I don’t feel that way when I see Playboy images where you know titillation is what you’re buying. Yet to have the whole thing wrapped up in a package of high end gallery with critical imprimatur is what felt awkward and strange.”
Here is a take on the lesbian intimacy in Yuskvage’s work.
And, an excellent quote to leave you on: (you should just hop over and read the whole article, though!)
“With Sarah Palin declaring herself a feminist, there certainly has been a resurgence of the F word in the halls of power and from across the aisle, even if the aisle has moose antlers you have to step over. If politics can make mincemeat of feminism then so can art. … It’s long past the time when people are wondering whether Lisa Yuskavage’s fecund images are part of the solution or part of the problem, whether they deserve to be hidden under the mattress or whether they are worthy of museum walls.”