Jerry Saltz lays into Lisa Yuskavage who has a show up at Zwirner:
The same bogus arguments come up every time there’s a Lisa Yuskavage show. Is her work feminist? Is she, oy, “critiquing the male gaze?” At the opening of Yuskavage’s current solo outing, I was standing between two paintings: Figure in Interior, a picture of an anorexic nude on her knees with her legs akimbo, shaved vulva exposed, white cream/semen dripping from her face onto her breasts; and Reclining Nude, a picture of a recumbent girl in a glowing green glen, her breasts pointing in two directions, legs splayed to expose pink genitalia protruding from blonde pubic hair. A well-known museum curator sidled up and swooned, “Lisa’s paintings are as rich as Vermeer’s and Boucher’s. They’re as sumptuous as the background of the Mona Lisa.” I blinked silently until she mentioned Courbet. Then I bitchily snipped, “If you think these paintings have that kind of mojo, you’ve either never looked at those paintings or you know nothing about painting—which I’ve written about you.” We smiled at each other and parted. I love the art world.
Those who say Yuskavage’s figurative skill makes her paintings good don’t grasp that if rendering figures realistically equals skill then the makers of nineteenth-century Victorian nudes and painters like Bouguereau would be the greatest artists of all time. Yuskavage’s beanpoles, voluptuaries, and ugly ducklings make it clear that her work is less connected to classical art than to calendar illustration, cheesecake, dirty playing cards, Vargas, and Thomas Kinkade. These aren’t meant as insults. Yuskavage’s influences also include Hallmark greeting cards, Russ Meyer, the Hudson River School, Maxfield Parrish, seventies Penthouse, Impressionism, third-string Italian masters, and the kind of naturalist kitsch the Nazis liked. This mix is kinkier and more interesting than any discourse about technique and critique.
After the Orgy (New York)