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b. 1962, United Kingdom

Sarah Lucas Biography

Sarah Lucas is a British artist known for bawdy, mischievous and confrontational sculpture, photography and installation. She arrived on the English art scene via the 1988 group show, Freeze, alongside several other young British artists coming out of Goldsmiths, University of London—among them the curator/artist Damien Hirst.

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Lucas is a feminist who uses raunchy and morbid humour, irony and sexual puns to explore everyday English culture and sexual and psychological tensions. Her works reflect and satirise misogynist norms in general life, tabloids and pornography. In some of her earliest work (from 1991) this was done through a series of enlarged spreads of extracts from tabloid newspapers that exemplified seedy working-class male attitudes towards women.

In her photographic self-portraits—starting with the seminal Eating a Banana (1990)—she adopts a confrontational macho or 'butch' appearance while acting as an object of male desire through sexual euphemisms and suggestive body language. Sometimes this involves produce such as an uncooked chicken, fried eggs, bananas or fish acting as substitutes for male or female sexual organs. The same principle is extended to her installations, including Au Naturel (1994), in which two melons and a bucket alongside two oranges and a cucumber on an old mattress are used to represent a heterosexual couple in bed.

Alongside perishable produce, a common early motif in the artist's work was cigarettes. Whether the cigarettes act as the material of her work—as in Self Portrait with Cigarettes (2000)—or are seen in hand during one of her more vulnerable self-portrait photographs—such as Human Toilet Revisited (1998)—they are a strong presence in her art. They are a means of asserting independence and introversion, and are crucial to Lucas for art-making. They are a conjoined symbol of sex and death—a psychological paradox that fascinates the artist.

This use of commonplace items—from cigarettes to household furniture (including a freezer)—is typical of Lucas' sculptural practice. Following in the footsteps of Marcel Duchamp, who pioneered the use of the 'ready-made', the renegade Lucas sees the ironic and euphemistic potential in certain everyday objects. Her 1996 Is Suicide Genetic?, made from a toilet bearing writing, may be seen as a direct nod to Duchamp's 1917 Fountain.

Combinations of such ready-made items were sometimes used by Lucas as stand-ins for fragmented or whole bodies, as in Bitch (1995), where a table, T-shirt, two melons and a vacuum-packed smoked fish mimic a female body. Lucas positioned these ambiguous forms to resemble parts or the whole of the human body in sexual poses and emphasise organs associated with sex and desire.

A hallmark of her more recent sculpture (since 2009) has been the fleshy, human-like, long tubular forms made with stuffed tights and wire. These are arranged provocatively to reinforce their representation of sexualised female limbs. The way they twist and curve, sometimes engulfing themselves, is evocative of an intimate embrace. Lucas first began experimenting with the stuffed stockings in her 'Bunny' series (started in 1997).

Lucas' ambiguous forms are now often combined with common, art-irreverent materials like cinder blocks, merino sheep's jaws and ceramic toilets. In constructions such as Bike (2011), the limb-like tubular forms intertwine with these objects to form twisted corporeal parodies—caricatures that mimic misogynist sexual stereotypes.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2017


Sarah Lucas Featured Artworks

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Elf Warrior by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasElf Warrior, 2018Bronze, concrete and cast iron
183.2 x 67 x 97.2 cm
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Margot by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasMargot, 2015Plaster, cigarette, freezer
116 x 202 x 87 cm
Sadie Coles HQ Contact Gallery
Chicken Knickers by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasChicken Knickers, 1997C-type print
42.5 x 42.5 cm
Sadie Coles HQ Contact Gallery
Tit-Cat Down by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasTit-Cat Down, 2015Bronze
69.5 x 90 x 35 cm
Sadie Coles HQ Contact Gallery
Sucky Thing by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasSucky Thing, 2011tights, fluff, wire, ceramic toilet
69 x 35 x 60 cm
Two Rooms Contact Gallery
Bike by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasBike, 2011tights, fluff, wire, ceramic toilet, merino sheep jaw, stone, concrete blocks
64 x 69 x 208 cm
Two Rooms Contact Gallery
Panoramadrama by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasPanoramadrama, 2011tights, fluff, wire, ceramic toilets, concrete blocks
60 x 107 x 61 cm
Two Rooms Contact Gallery
Galaxia by Sarah Lucas contemporary artwork
Sarah LucasGalaxia, 2011Tights, fluff, merino sheep skull, concrete blocks, MDF
149 x 44 x 44 cm
Two Rooms Contact Gallery

Sarah Lucas Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Tales from the Colony Room at Dellasposa Gallery, London
Open Now
16 September–20 December 2020 Group Exhibition Tales from the Colony Room Dellasposa Gallery, LondonLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, (SELF) PORTRAITS at Parkett, Zurich
Open Now
22 February–30 September 2020 Group Exhibition (SELF) PORTRAITS Parkett, Zurich Exhibition SpaceZurich Exhibition Space
Contemporary art exhibition, Sarah Lucas, HONEY PIE at Sadie Coles HQ, London
Closed
16 March–8 August 2020 Sarah Lucas HONEY PIE Sadie Coles HQ, Kingly St, LondonKingly Street

Sarah Lucas Represented By

Sarah Lucas In Ocula Magazine

Art Basel Viewing Rooms: Advisory Highlights Ocula Insight Art Basel Viewing Rooms: Advisory Highlights By Ocula Art Advisory, Basel

Lucia Laguna, Paisagem n. 122 (2020) at Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel In Lucia Laguna's 'Paisagem' (Landscapes) series we see the blending of exterior and interior worlds, with Brazil's abundant vegetation on full display. Plants and flowers rendered in bright tones are set against a rough, grid-like structure that suggests architectural...

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Sarah Lucas at Red Brick Art Museum: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight Sarah Lucas at Red Brick Art Museum: Exhibition Walkthrough Beijing

Sarah Lucas' first major solo exhibition in Asia at Beijing 's Red Brick Art Museum (2 November 2019–16 February 2020) features sculptures, installations, and photographs created over the past three decades. In this Ocula video, Yan Shijie, founder and director of Red Brick Art Museum, reflects on what it means to introduce Lucas' feminist...

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Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Ocula Conversation Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo By Stephanie Bailey, Turin

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Guarene and Turin, together with the Madrid Fundación, are creating a new constellation; mapping out a new geography that concretely embodies an idea of Europe based on reciprocity—between places, communities, fields of knowledge and cultures.

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Sarah Lucas In Related Press

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Art Talk: The Provocative and Explicit Art of Sarah Lucas Related Press Art Talk: The Provocative and Explicit Art of Sarah Lucas 30 July 2019, KCRW

OK, my friends. The subject of today’s Art Talk is the provocative and explicit art of British artist Sarah Lucas, currently on display at Hammer Museum. The tongue-in- cheek title of the exhibition, Au Naturel, is a French phrase meaning 'in the nude.' And nudity–plenty of nudity–fills the many museum galleries in the form of sculptures...

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Review: Sarah Lucas show at the Hammer Museum is naked but definitely not afraid Related Press Review: Sarah Lucas show at the Hammer Museum is naked but definitely not afraid 17 July 2019, Los Angeles Times

As a motivation for making art, sometimes enough is enough. That seems to be one motor driving Sarah Lucas, the cheeky British Conceptual artist whose always smart, often deliriously funny retrospective exhibition is at the UCLA Hammer Museum. More than 130 works in sculpture, photography, collage and video made over the last three decades are...

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Sarah Lucas | Murphy Beds and A Lot of Yolk Related Press Sarah Lucas | Murphy Beds and A Lot of Yolk 10 July 2019, Flaunt Magazine

As women, the world infiltrates us with an obscene amount of signs and signifiers, which, in turn, overwhelmingly inform how we relate to our bodies. Playing with the concepts of objectification and vulnerability of the female body, Sarah Lucas, in her new show at the Hammer Museum, Au Naturel, critiques, but also empowers. Whether through casts...

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Eggs are being fried as art at the Hammer Museum. Let’s see what’s cooking Related Press Eggs are being fried as art at the Hammer Museum. Let’s see what’s cooking 9 July 2019, Los Angeles Times

The survey of the British artist’s work includes collage, photography, sculpture, video and installations, many of which humorously juxtapose everyday objects in a way that challenges assumptions about gender, sexuality, religion and power. One standout piece is Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab (1992), which features, well, two real fried eggs and a...

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Sarah Lucas In Video & Audio

Sarah Lucas in conversation with Don Brown, film by Julian Simmons: UK at the Venice Biennale Related Video & Audio Sarah Lucas in conversation with Don Brown, film by Julian Simmons: UK at the Venice Biennale 12 May 2015, Film by Julian Simmons

Sadie Coles HQ is delighted to announce the release of a new film — specially commissioned by the British Council - marking Sarah Lucas's representation of Britain at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Shot and produced by Julian Simmons, the thirteen-minute documentary will be broadcast by The Guardian from Wednesday 6th May, to coincide with the...

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