Janet Werner, Untitled (Curtain), 2016, oil on canvas, 74 × 60 1⁄4".

Janet Werner, Untitled (Curtain), 2016, oil on canvas, 74 × 60 1⁄4".

Janet Werner

Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

Through painterly and conceptual ingenuity, Janet Werner has created a visual language to explore the multiplicity of the self. Her portraits revel in their provenance, explicitly referencing both fashion magazines and a range of precursors, including Francisco Goya, Édouard Manet, Alice Neel, Francis Picabia, and the sculptor Allen Jones. Werner, who attended the MFA program at Yale in the late 1980s with John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage, is a far more expressive painter than either, although she, too, strains the female figure through the sieve of popular culture, yielding a burlesque of idiosyncratic contortions and juxtapositions.

Working with female subjects whose bodies are exposed and deformed by the glossies, Werner either exaggerates their grotesqueness or obfuscates them. With bends, folds, cuts, and distortions, she illuminates an interiority that otherwise refuses to make itself

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