Philadelphia / New York

Lisa Yuskavage

Institute of Contemporary Art / Marianne Boesky Gallery

Masturbation is without a doubt a great subject for painting. The real question is why more artists haven’t taken it on as wholeheartedly as Lisa Yuskavage has. I’m referring not just to her depictions of women actually playing with themselves, such as Interior: Big Blonde with Beaded Jacket, 1997, or True Blonde, 1999, two examples from the ICA’s five-year survey; surprisingly enough, such directness is not the forte of this notoriously in-your-face artist. More to the point are the paintings of women indulging in a less specific but all the more voluptuous self-touching: for instance, the way the twilit figure fingers her hair in Honeymoon, 1998. Honeymoon? There’s no sign of any groom. But Yuskavage’s brides without bachelors hardly pine; instead, they are totally self-absorbed. When two or three of them share a canvas, they seem only robotically, incommunicatively coordinated. Even

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