11.29.2006

Art Summary NYC

Jerry Saltz critiques Lisa Yuskavage's new work at David Zwirner. She's being compared to John Currin, who was recently trashed for painting preppy porn on Painter's NYC blog. Currin, for me, will always be associated with his new nickname, a phrase never before muttered by a manic, "a hegemonic cattle rancher bronzed with lasso." I love reading slapdash comments written late in the evening by poetic amateurs.

Yuskavage paint handling is nothing when seen next to Currin's. It doesn't appear that either of them is concerned with what the other is after. The only reason they're being juxtaposed is because they're both dealing with sexuality and nakedness in a backwards time. "Dejeuner sur l'herbe", as one blogger pointed out would appear to be revolutionary if it was hung this afternoon. Also, in the larger scheme of things, we're all contemporaries, and neither Currin nor Yuskavage have anything on Manet. I'd argue Currin approaches more closely that grassy day. If Yuskavage had a more subtle palette she might be taking the first step. What if her neon green had lived off the dark and damp, instead of glowing around Las Vegas nipples steeped in piss yellow? I don't think her work will hold up at all in ten years. Currin, on the other hand, may have a warm lap yet, and he won't be begging to be paid for it. Yuskavage is so hot right now, but I'm not buying it. Artists are loving hating Currin. Bitters taste good over scary wages.

On the other hand, a few of the Yuskavages stand out from the rest. When she makes a double-chin, or twee eyes I'm tempted to open my own. I can't wait to see what she does next, even though I'm peeved by some of the things she's flashing now. Being disturbed by butterflies, waxed fruit and ribbons is not so bad. Using invisible breast separators and post-operation symmetries to sell her version of femininity (even allowing for a measure of irony) is rank, even as big butts knock over fuzzy table lamps as the sun rises. I'd like to know if she can stomach her own work. Does she live with them, or pass them along quickly, after purging herself? How many times can she stare at the perfumed blinding highlight on the shiny pug nose of a woman who seems to require a leash or a milk maid?

Michael Kimmelman reviews a Currin show from back in 1999, in the New York Times, not saying much of anything. In some ways his reaction could apply to the show closing soon at Gagosian Gallery. It must be tough reviewing a show in four graphs. Why are the "art in review" articles so closely cropped? Roberta Smith is the best of the NYT reviewers at pulling out quickly and still hitting the mark. I can do without painting dealing with pretty traditional themes (fleshiness, sexuality, decadence, hedonism, emptiness, decay) in a pretty academic manner being called "jaw-droppingly, unavoidably weird." Kimmelman starts saying something interesting in the last sentence of the review, that Currin's new (at the time, it was new) territory approaches "bourgeois comfort fastidiously represented and mocked." I wonder what he would have said without the word limit imposing an awful case of coitus interruptus. More importantly, I wonder what Kimmelman would say about Currin now.

Eric Fischl, commenting during a recent Q&A session (recorded by Anaba) hated Currin's recent work, saying, "I was struck by the misanthropic animus that was being projected" and, "the caricturish _____, .. parody of it, the way he used objects to humiliate his subjects..."

Also, check out Robert Ayers interviewing Marlene Dumas.

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