Sarah Lucas

(b. 1962)

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(1962– )

British artist. Born in London, she studied alongside Angus Fairhurst and Damien Hirst at Goldsmiths' College, 1984–7. She took part in Hirst's ‘Freeze’ exhibition of 1988. Her first solo exhibition in London in 1992 was entitled ‘Penis Nailed to a Board’, from a tabloid news story about sado-masochism. In 1993 she and Tracey Emin opened a shop in Bethnal Green Road in the East End of London where they sold their works. By this time, Lucas was already represented in the collection of Charles Saatchi and was included in the *‘Sensation’ exhibition of 1997. Lucas has worked in many media but her art is consistently marked by a confrontational treatment of taboo subjects. When she deals with sexuality it is in a notably raunchy manner, quite distinct from the emphasis on the maternal body or the mythical treatment of female empowerment found in an earlier generation of feminist artists. Sod you gits (1991, Tate) is a photocopied page from the Sunday Sport, featuring a story about the exploits of a midget woman (‘Men go wild for my body’). Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab (1992) presents the female body in terms of the verbal derision of the nervous adolescent male. She poses for photographs in a masculine garb with fried eggs on her breasts or a fish on her shoulder. The Bunny series uses stuffed tights to evoke a headless sexually compliant woman. This interest in sexual metaphor made her an appropriate exhibitor at the Freud Museum, London, in 2000. Julian Stallabrass has related her work to an idea of the ‘urban pastoral’. He argues that the art audience today seeks refuge, not in an Arcadia of shepherds, but in working-class culture. Concrete Void and Islington Diamonds (1997) is an example. The title refers to a colloquial term for a smashed windscreen; Lucas exhibited her own wrecked car. In the present climate Lucas's treatment of the theme of smoking may be a greater cause for controversy than sex. Cigarettes have been used as sculptural material. An interview with her was entitled ‘Drag Queen’. Lucas has also designed for the ballet. A retrospective of her work was held at Tate Liverpool in 2005.

Further Reading

M. Collings, Sarah Lucas (2005)A. C. Grayling, ‘An Uncooked Perspective on the Nature of Sex’, Tate (autumn 2005)

Subjects: Art.

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