Magazine Forced to Censor Cover of Lisa Yuskavage Nude

The painting was deemed too risqué by distributors.

Lisa Yuskavage. Courtesy photographer EJ Camp/David Zwirner, New York/London.

The censorship of a nude Lisa Yuskavage painting on the cover of an Australian art magazine has been met by an uproar of incredulity from the country’s arts scene.

The artwork on the cover of Vault magazine features Yuskavage’s Brood (2005–06) which the publication’s editor, Neha Kale, described to ABC Australia as “a painting that shows a pregnant woman with her breasts exposed in relation to a selection of fruit, painted in these pastel tones.” She called it “a layered, interesting painting.”

But the artwork was deemed too risqué by the magazine’s distributor, Gordon & Gotch, who insisted the magazine conceal the “offensive” cover with stickers or a plastic sleeve.

Lisa Yuskavage, Brood (2005-2006). From the collection of Jeffrey A. Altman. Image: Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London

Lisa Yuskavage, Brood (2005-2006). From the collection of Jeffrey A. Altman.
Image: Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London.

“We pushed back,” Kale insisted. “But we had deadlines, we had to get the magazine out. We were left with no choice, ultimately.” Although the magazine is in stores, the nude figure’s nipples are now covered by two yellow circles.

The editor denied that the choice of cover was deliberately provocative. “We so rarely get to see representations of femininity by female painters,” she said. “And I think it was really important for our readers to be exposed to that.”

“The female nude has played such a massive role in art since the start of art history,” Kale added. “It’s a bit frustrating because it’s a beautiful painting and it’s just a real shame.”

Lisa Yuskavage, <em>Sari</eM> (2015). Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.

Lisa Yuskavage, Sari (2015). Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London.

The editor went on to question the moral duplicity of contemporary Western culture. “I just hope that it makes people question why we police some female bodies and some representations of femininity over others, and whether we need to be asking broader questions about why we do this.”

In 2013, Instagram deleted the artist Petra Collins’s profile after she depicted herself with pubic hair peaking out over her underwear; the artist wrote on her website: “Up until this moment I had obviously seen and felt the pressure to regulate my body but never thought I would literally experience it.” Artist Rupi Kaur‘s Instagram account was also compromised last year, after the social media site deleted an image of her with a period stain on her pants.

Yuskavage is one of the most in-demand female contemporary artists. According to the artnet Price Database, her auction record stands at $1.4 million, and her works regularly achieve high six-figure sums. She’s also one of the most daring contemporary artists when it comes to painting the female form, as evidenced by this recent dust-up.

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