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Object of Desire

Lisa Yuskavage's watercolor tapestries

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Lisa Yuskavage's artistic terrain has always been the female body. It's a landscape she has explored with almost fetishistic relish, particularly the breasts. As she once remarked to fellow painter Chuck Close, "The whole world is obsessed by hard nipples.

While you might have to look twice to find them, they're there all right. Nearly passing as gently curving hills or melons, voluptuous breasts (and, yes, erect nipples) pop up incongruously amid fruits and vegetation in a pair of tapestries the artist has created with the nonprofit Art Production Fund. Titled, unapologetically, Tit Heaven, these paeans to the bosom are based on watercolors Yuskavage did in the early nineties, around the time she began painting the kitschy, stylized self-absorbed nudes sheÕs now famous for.

"Because the disembodied parts are sort of hidden in the watercolors, it takes a little longer to see them," says the 43-year-old. "But once you realize what you're looking at, they're pretty provocative."

Translating the images into wool tapestries took six months of dyeing and hand-looming by a fabricator in Guadalajara. The finished weavings are available in editions of three, at $30,000 apiece. (Yuskavage also collaborated with the Art Production Fund on a shower curtain featuring a pensive nude—done in an edition of 300, at $1,500 each.) The artist, whose first New York show in three years will be held this fall at the David Zwirner Gallery, notes that tapestries were originally functional, "made to keep the castles warm." Yuskavage says she likes to picture someone hanging hers in a cabin with a fireplace, "using them in the way tapestries were intended."
Art Production Fund, 212-966-0193; www.artproductionfund.org.

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