Lisa Yuskavage at the Rose Art Museum

The Rose Museum surveys Lisa Yuskavage's first twenty-five years of work. Thomas Gebremedhin interviewed Yuskavage for the Paris Review last spring and he asked what she didn't like about her first show.
It didn’t represent what I felt. It was like a show for a person I was pretending to be and not my real self. I was trying to ape to something that I was supposed to be doing. I come from a working-class family. I kind of have a potty mouth. I have a lot of crazy energies that I didn’t know you could put into art. I thought art was for classy people, and I was going to try to be one of those people. That’s when I put on my painting beret, my little pinkie went up, and I was a fake. I was a fraud. And I didn’t know how to do it any other way.
I realized later that I could include all of my aspects and that that would actually be important, but it took this year of not painting. I just walked around SoHo, and I looked at art. I saw some really important art that changed my understanding of what was possible, like Mike Kelley. But then I was also seeing a lot of films. I was doing a lot of film festivals because I had a lot of time on my hands. Film Forum was doing a Fassbinder festival and MoMA was doing a Pasolini festival, or a Tarkovsky festival. I spent time at the New York Public Library. And I was teaching something like watercolor and patching together a living. I thought I was just filling my time because I was depressed, but what I realize now is that I was actually building my armor for what I wanted to do and feeding myself in a way. The real-world school, not the school school. I think by going to all the festivals, like the Fassbinder festival, I felt that I had met a friend. And I just wanted to stay. I felt less lonely. I think that when you’re an artist and you’re dropped in from outer space, you’re spending the rest of your life trying to figure out who your people are—Who is like me? Who am I really? Because your family is only part of the picture, and you cannot reject that. But who you become has to be something that never existed before.
Lisa Yuskavage, "Triptych" (2011)
Lisa Yuskavage, “Triptych” (2011) Photo credit: Robert Moeller

Lisa Yuskavage, Transference Portrait of My Shrink in Her Starched Nightgown with My Face and Her Hair, 1995. Private Collection. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London

Lisa Yuskavage, Big Marie, 1993. Private Collection. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London

Lisa Yuskavage, Blonde, Brunette, Redhead, 1995. Collection of Yvonne & Leo Villareal. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London


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