Sarah Lucas's photo
"The Artist Eating a Banana" (1990)
|Born||1962 (age 54–55)
|Movement||Young British Artists|
Sarah Lucas (born 1962) is an English artist. She is part of the generation of Young British Artists who emerged during the 1990s. Her works frequently employ visual puns and bawdy humour, and include photography, collage and found objects.
Life and work
Lucas left school at 16; she studied art at The Working Men's College (1982–83), London College of Printing (1983–84), and Goldsmith's College (1984–87), graduating with a degree in Fine Art in 1987.
Lucas was included in the 1988 group exhibition Freeze along with contemporaries including Angus Fairhurst, Damien Hirst, and Gary Hume. In 1990, Lucas co-organized the East Country Yard Show with Henry Bond, in which she also exhibited. Her first two solo exhibitions in 1992 were titled The Whole Joke and Penis Nailed to a Board. It was in the early 1990s when Lucas began using furniture as a substitute for the human body, usually with crude genital punning. Created for a show organised by fellow artist Georg Herold at Portikus, Au Naturel (1994) is an assemblage of objects—a mattress, a bucket, a pair of melons, oranges and a cucumber—that suggest male and female body parts. For six months in 1993, Lucas and fellow artist Tracey Emin rented a retail space in east London, The Shop, where they made artworks, ranging from printed mugs to T-shirts with slogans, and put them on sale. In works such as Bitch (table, T-shirt, melons, and vacuum-packed smoked fish, 1995), she merges tabloid culture with the economy of the ready-made. In earlier work, she had displayed enlarged pages from the Sunday Sport newspaper. Through her career, Lucas has continued to appropriate everyday materials (including, for example, freshly made fried eggs) to make works that use humour, visual puns and sexual metaphors of sex, death, Englishness and gender.
Sarah Lucas is also known for her self-portraits, such as Human Toilet Revisited, 1998, a colour photograph in which she sits on a toilet smoking a cigarette. In her solo exhibition The Fag Show at Sadie Coles in 2000, she used cigarettes as a material, as in Self-portrait with Cigarettes (2000).
Writing in The Guardian, in 2011, Aida Edemariam said that "Lucas was the wildest of the Young British Artists, partying hard and making art that was provocative and at times genuinely shocking." In 1996, she was the subject of a BBC documentary, Two Melons and a Stinking Fish.
Lucas had her first solo exhibition in 1992 at City Racing, an artists' run gallery in south London, and her first solo show in New York at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in 1995. One-person museum exhibitions at Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam, at Portikus in Frankfurt, at Museum Ludwig in Cologne and at Kunsthalle Zurich, Kunstverein am Hamburg and Tate Liverpool have accompanied exhibitions in less conventional spaces—an empty office building for The Law in 1997, a disused postal depot in Berlin for the exhibition Beautiness in 1999, and an installation at the Freud Museum called Beyond the Pleasure Principle in 2000.
Lucas's work has been included in major surveys of new British art in the last decade including Brilliant!—New Art From London at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in 1995, Sensation (Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection at the Royal Academy in 1997), and Intelligence—New British Art, 2000, at Tate Britain. In 2003, Sarah Lucas participated in the 50th International Biennale of Art in Venice, Outlook: Contemporary Art in Athens, and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, a three-person exhibition for Tate Britain with Angus Fairhurst and Damien Hirst in 2004. From October 2005 to January 2006, Tate Liverpool presented the first survey exhibition of Lucas's work.
Questioning conventions and highlighting the absurdity of the everyday, Sarah Lucas is as humorous as she is critical. One of Lucas’ most famous works Two Fried Eggs and Kebab, parodies the traditional still life and evokes similarities between itself and feminist Judy Chicago’s infamous piece The Dinner Party. Feminist reviews often describe Lucas as attempting to add female artists into the canon of art history through her analytical work that predominantly discusses the female body and voyeurism.
Appropriating masculine constructions, Lucas does so by confronting and dissecting their nature. Her pieces represent a fantastical world and playfully employs unrealistic ideals to unearth obscene paradoxes created by those very constructions. Specifically, she is concerned with the casual misogyny of everyday life and employs the conventions of middle class or ‘street’ language to enact her concepts. Her appropriation of masculine symbols such as the phallic banana or ‘fried eggs’ in conjunction with her fearless and dominating gaze, takes ‘female work’ out of the feminine sphere and disrupts the patriarchal power dynamic of the gaze. Works such as The old in Out (1988) is a clear reference to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) and Two Fried Eggs and Kebab (1922) has been linked to Édouard Manet ’s Olympia (1863). While Lucas continues the artistic legacy of feminist artists such as Hannah Wilke, Cindy Sherman, and Rachel Whiteread, her visual language empties femininity of meaning and thus removes her from such a clear ‘feminist art’ title.
Sexuality is not apparent in her works and a lack of association with morality leaves viewers at the free will of her humorous narratives. Lucas takes on the role as a source of reflecting sexism, but not overtly commenting on it. She has stated that, “I am not trying to solve the problem. I’m exploring the moral dilemma by incorporating it”. Her works are both literal and conceptual evidence of Lucas searching for meaning. Whether its through recognizable forms or her own mythologized fantasies, her ideas constantly build and transform. She appears to never be satisfied with her outcome and scours every imaginable medium for an outlet that is fitting. To her, the artworks she make “…carry on talking and thinking with other people”. Lucas’s practice is then not compulsive ramblings or automatic depictions, but a conscious yearning for a personal sense of happiness.
In the mid-2000s, Lucas was in a relationship with fellow YBA Angus Fairhurst. Lucas now lives with her partner Julian Simmons, in the former residence of Benjamin Britten near Aldeburgh; a home which is "tucked away down a long country lane, behind a Baptist church in Suffolk." In August 2014, Lucas was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
- Sarah Lucas Museum of Modern Art, New York.
- "Τέχνη | British Council Ελλάδα" (in Greek). Britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- Amna Malik (2009): Sarah Lucas - Au Naturel MIT Press.
- Aida Edemariam,"The Saturday interview: Sarah Lucas," The Guardian, 28 May 2011.
- Sarah Lucas British Council.
- "Sarah Lucas, Whitechapel Gallery". Whitechapelgallery.org. 2013-12-15. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- "Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas & Rachael Whiteread: Did feminism feature as a part of Young British Art?". Chalk. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "SARAH LUCAS: The Venice Biennale, France and Feminism". A - B - C. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "Henry Moore Institute - Sarah Lucas: Above and beyond the pleasure principle". www.henry-moore.org. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "The Undiminished Charisma of Sarah Lucas". T Magazine. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
- "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- Sarah Lucas, D. H. Lawrence, Julian Simmons, I Scream Daddio (London: British Council), 2015
- Rodolfo Cervantes, Elisa Miller, Julian Simmons, Tittipussidad (London: Sadie Coles HQ), 2015
- Quinn Latimer, Sarah Lucas: Describe the Distance (Milan: Mousse Publishing), 2013
- Angus Cook, Angus Fairhurst, Sarah Lucas: After 2005, Before 2012 (Cologne: Walther König), 2013
- Amna Malik, Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel (London: Afterall), 2009
- Michele Robecchi, Sarah Lucas (Milan: Electa Mondadori), 2007
- Yilmaz Dziewior and Beatrix Ruf (eds.), Sarah Lucas: Exhibitions and Catalogue Raisonné 1989–2000 (Osfildern-Ruit/London: Hatje Cantz Verlag/Tate Publishing), 2005
- Sarah Lucas and Olivier Garbay, God is Dad (London: Sadie Coles HQ and Koenig Books), 2005
- Matthew Collings, Sarah Lucas (London: Tate Publishing), 2002
- Jan van Adrichem, Angus Fairhurst, Sarah Lucas (Rotterdam: Mus. Boymans—van Beuningen) 1996
- Jerry Saltz, Jan van Adrichem, Collier Schorr and Carl Freedman, "Sarah Lucas", Parkett, no. 45, 1995, pp. 76–115
- Sadie Coles HQ: Sarah Lucas
- Gladstone Gallery: Sarah Lucas
- Tate Liverpool Sarah Lucas survey show (2006)
- Sarah Lucas feature on BBC Collective (2005)
- Sarah Lucas on the Tate web site
- Artist portrait / spike art quarterly
- Sarah Lucas on Artcyclopedia
- Brooklyn Rail In Conversation Sarah Lucas with William Corwin