Alternately adored and despised by critics, Yuskavage's paintings of nude women with cartoonishly large breasts have made her one of the hottest art world stars.
The brassy, controversy-stoking Yuskavage got her MFA from Yale in 1986 and had her first solo show in 1990 at the Pamela Auchincloss Gallery. But it wasn't until the latter part of the decade that she really gained notice, with a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and a major solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 2000. Yuskavage's nude paintings of a curvy blonde—a character she calls "Motherfucker"—are among her most famous pieces her work, which often features borderline pornographic poses, has been both praised for being a commentary on how men view women and attacked as nothing more than exploitative kitsch. She is frequently compared to John Currin (a Yale classmate) and Kara Walker.
Dubbed the "premier bad-girl painter of the naughty late 1990s" by critic Roberta Smith, Yuskavage's loaded subject matter has always divided critics. One critic bemoaned "the sheer ugliness and ineptitude of her work" and described her paintings as "fusing the aesthetics of Hallmark Cards and the knowing rhetoric of the graduate school seminar." Other critics have managed to disassociate the subject matter from Yuskavage's considerable skill as a painter. Regardless of the reception she's received from critics, she harbors few doubts about her own talent—she's proclaimed, "my real hero is me"—and collectors have swooned in recent years, plunking down record sums for her work. [Image via Getty]