Lisa Yuskavage - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 18, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "Making a painting is being alone in a room with a very sensuous object, and making a painting is a very sensuous experience."
    —Lisa Yuskavage

    Painted in 2000, Northview (Impressionist Jacket) is a paramount example of Lisa Yuskavage’s acclaimed practice that reimagines the canonical trope of the female nude. Belonging to her eponymous series of six paintings that set her figures in a lavish Northview mansion in Westchester, New York, the present work marks the pivotal moment when the artist first began incorporating richly detailed environments into her compositions, signaling the shift to her mature practice. Here, a semi-nude woman looks out at a glowing dusk sky from an extravagant boudoir. Donning an Impressionist-era jacket as that seen in Berthe Morisot’s Young Girl on the Grass, The Red Bodice, the figure chromatically blends with her environment and stands in three-quarter view, recalling René Magritte’s nude in La Magie Noir. At once empathetic and jarring, intimate and sexualized, the present work showcases Yuskavage’s painterly dexterity in “moving between the triad of the female body, the gaze, and the female soul.”i


    [left] René Magritte, La Magie Noir (Black Magic), 1945. Musée d’Art Moderne, Brussels. Image: Banque d'Images, ADAGP / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2022 C. Herscovici / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York [right] Berthe Morisot, Young Girl on the Grass, The Red Bodice (Mademoiselle Isabelle Lambert), 1885. Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen 

    "The [Northview] series marks the first time the artist has dealt with a fully articulated interior instead of a fantasy or neutral space. In addition to the art-historical references, other layers of meaning emerge."
    —Carey Lovelace

    Exhibited at the artist’s solo show at Marianne Boesky, New York in 2001, Northview (Impressionist Jacket) and its series reflect an evolution in Yuskage’s subject matter and technique that mark the beginnings of her mature practice. Departing from the surreal spaces inhabited by her earlier subjects of enormous-breasted women that were infused with overt vulgarity, the artist moved towards “a more traditional realism, with a hint of poignancy and even, here and there, of narrative emotional content,” as Carey Lovelace explained.ii This shift came in part by Yuskavage’s turn to using life-based models, which began several years earlier for her famous series inspired by the imagery in Penthouse magazine. Around the time of the present work’s creation, the artist started using her childhood friend Kathy as a live model and, for her Northview paintings, staged her in an opulent boudoir at an acquaintance’s mansion. Compared to the more cartoony countenances seen in other examples in the series, Northview (Impressionist Jacket) stands out for Yuskavage’s highly realistic rendering of the figure, capturing “an accomplished, almost academic realism” and “sacrificing much of her [previous] work's psychological and formal bluntness,” as Roberta Smith observed.iii 


    Edward Hopper, Eleven A.M., 1926. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Image: © DeA Picture Library / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2022 Heirs of Josephine Hopper / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    By placing her nudes in this lavishly decorated interior, the Northview series manifests Yuskavage’s deep engagement with the art historical canon. Recalling the deep inspiration the artist found in the female subjects of Peter Paul Rubens, Giovanni Bellini, and Edgar Degas, the voluptuous figure in the present work is evocative of the surreal uncanny with which John Currin—a close friend and former Yale classmate of the artist—imbues his sexualized figures.iv Yet ultimately, the pensiveness of Yuskavage’s figure and her situation in an interior environment bears the introspective mood of Edward Hopper’s women. Here, the 19th century aesthetic of the boudoir conjures the scenes of Édouard Vuillard, a profound influence on the artist’s practice who remains a continuous reference in her recent work. In Northview (Impressionist Jacket), the plush sofa and book-lined wall recall those seen in myriad compositions by the French artist, such as Marguerite Chapin in Her Apartment With her Dog, 1910. 


    Édouard Vuillard, Marguerite Chapin in Her Apartment with Her Dog, 1910. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Image: © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge / Art Resource, NY

    "Yuskavage has cultivated a terrain of rich and disturbing ambiguities, making works that can be both tender and astoundingly harsh. She has been aided in this endeavor by her devotion to a second triad, that of light, color and flesh as they can be conveyed by the plasticity of oil paint."
    —Roberta Smith

    Yuskavage found the Northview space as “intensely feminine” as the women she depicts, which stimulated her fascination with the interaction between her nude subject and the space she inhabits.v The paintings comprising the series solidified the artist’s unique painterly language, not just by incorporating interiors, but by further embodying “her first body of work where the environmental elements were equal to the figures.”vi Yuskavage materializes this here by rendering flesh, color and light all in pink, a choice that further heightens the notion of femininity pervading the composition. By encouraging viewers to see “surface as skin, skin as light, color as both, and everything as paint,” she signals to the objectification of the female nude in the patriarchal art historical canon.vii Yet the “mood of reflective domesticity” and insistent femininity that characterizes the present work—and her oeuvre hereon after—ultimately blur the lines between subverting the male gaze and illuminating the private corners of the female mind. In Roberta Smith’s view, “Yuskavage has approached [her work] from both the outside and the inside: her distortions exaggerate the way women are objectified both by society and by themselves. But her real subject is, I think, the inside, the female soul and psyche.”viii 

    i Roberta Smith, “A Painter Who Loads the Gun and Lets the Viewer Fire It,” The New York Times, January 12, 2001, online.
    ii Carey Lovelace, “Lisa Yuskavage: Fleshed Out,” Art in America, July 2001, p. 82.
    iii Roberta Smith, “A Painter Who Loads the Gun and Lets the Viewer Fire It,” The New York Times, January 12, 2001, online.
    iv Tamara Jenkins, “Holy Innocents,” in Deborah Aaronson, ed., Lisa Yuskavage: Small Paintings, 1993-2004, New York, 2004, pp. 14-15.
    v Thomas Gebremedhin, “Lisa Yuskavage’s Art Continues to Defy Characterization,” The Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2018, online.
    vi Lisa Yuskavage et al., “‘Studies for ‘Northview’ Series,” Lisa Yuskavage, artist website, 2018, online.
    vii Roberta Smith, “A Painter Who Loads the Gun and Lets the Viewer Fire It,” The New York Times, January 12, 2001, online.
    viii Ibid.

    • Provenance

      Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York
      Private Collection, United States
      Phillips de Pury & Company, New York, May 12, 2011, lot 16
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Marianne Boesky Gallery, Lisa Yuskavage, January 6–February 3, 2001
      Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, Lisa Yuskavage, May 17–August 26, 2001
      New York, C&M Arts, Naked Since 1950, October 11–December 8, 2001, no. 38, n.p. (illustrated)

    • Literature

      Carey Lovelace, "Lisa Yuskavage: Fleshed Out," Art in America, July 2001, p. 85 (illustrated, p. 84)
      Jonathan Gilmore, "Lisa Yuskavage," Tema Celeste, no. 84, 2001, p. 94 (illustrated)
      Eliza Williams, ed., Zoo 09, London, 2001, p. 117 (illustrated)
      Isabel Venero, ed., Curve: The Female Nude Now, New York, 2003, p. 206 (illustrated, p. 207; detail illustrated, p. 17)


Northview (Impressionist Jacket)

signed, titled and dated “Yuskavage © 2000 "Northview (Impressionist Jacket)"” on the reverse
oil on linen
70 1/8 x 40 1/2 in. (178.1 x 102.9 cm)
Painted in 2000.

Full Cataloguing

$700,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for $1,106,900

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
Global Managing Director and Specialist, Head of Evening Sale, New York
+1 212 940 1278

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+1 212 940 1206

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 18 May 2022