Ethereal, transparent drapery, and voluptuous nymphs are Yuskavage's most solvent currency. Rendered with the airbrushed perfection of a soft-porn magazine, her classical compositions have an unequivocally contemporary feel. Artificial color and forthright sexuality is characteristic of her oeuvre, as is the journey from high to low culture within a seamless whole. Her highly polished, immaculate surfaces perfectly conceal every trace of the artist's hand. Each inch of her large canvases is calculated in advance; she makes multiple small scale drawings and studies, as well as three-dimensional models, in order to scrutinize the fleeting, transformative quality of light and reflection. Like Yuskavage's great Venetian forbearers, the masters of luminescence, she finds in light the power to transform the visual image.
In Grooming, 2003, dark cumulus clouds lends a dramatic background, while delicate beams of raking light create shafts upon the two female subjects. With great focus, a girl with cropped blond hair affectionately combs and plaits the Botticelli-esque tendrils of her topless friend. Her breasts are cartoonishly perky and call to mind the work of John Currin. While the content of Yuskavage's work is provocative and sometimes disturbing, the formal qualities are enticing. She manipulates paint in a style that synthesizes abstraction and representation and skillfully quotes from a wide range of art historical genres.
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