Into the Abyss: Judith Bernstein’s Dissection of Desire

Judith Bernstein, “Birth of the Universe/Cuntface” (2015), oil on canvas, 84 x 108 inches (all images via unless stated otherwise)

Sometimes you think you have a handle on an artist’s work, and then a new piece of information comes along that casts it in an entirely different light. In the case of Judith Bernstein, whose paintings are now on view at Mary Boone, a moment of reflection by the artist can shift a set of motifs from the insatiably primal to the acutely personal.

Around this time last year, Bernstein presented a series of big paintings at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise called Birth of the Universe, which she displayed under ultraviolet light. These raucous pictures, as I wrote in a review of the show, were “dominated by male and female genitalia, the former

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