C O N C L U S I O N / C O M M E N C E M E N T
Writingona1996exhibitionofLisaYuskavage’swork,SydneyPokorny
located in it a provocation fordialogue typical of much feminist work
since the 1980s: ‘‘These paintings ask, for instance, why women art-
ists can’t express an ambiguous relationship to their own and to other
women’s bodies.Why is it that fora woman artist to be considered ac-
ceptably feminist she must paint fleshy mounds of femaleness not as
menacingshe-devilsbutaslovingrepresentativesofsomegreatgoddess
figure?Whyshouldn’tshebeable,instead,toexaminetheconstruction
of desire and the erotic in less than utopian
ways?’’1
Why, indeed?
Both Pokorny’s supportive critique of Yuskavage’s work and herde-
fense of the questions that it raises are rare. More typically, criticism
of younger women artists likeYuskavage reflects the art press’s limited
knowledge of feminist history, as well as the broader lack of under-
standing with which these artists’ attitudes toward art and sexualityare
frequently met in culture at large. Such antipathy is perhaps best sum-
marizedbytherecentbacklashagainstsuchartists,whosecomplex,am-
bivalentaddressof bothsexualityandpopularculturehasbeenthesub-
ject of much negative criticism in the last five years.These artists have
recentlybeendubbed‘‘BadGirls’’intheartpressonthebasisofaseries
of feminist art exhibitions of the same name, launched in 1993 (and
before most of the artists thus labeled were brought to the media’s at-
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