press release

Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel
26.09.2018 - 20.01.2019

The New Museum will present the first American survey of the work of British artist Sarah Lucas (b. 1962, London, UK).

Over the past thirty years, Lucas has created a distinctive and provocative body of work that subverts traditional notions of gender, sexuality, and identity. Since the late 1980s, Lucas has transformed found objects and everyday materials such as cigarettes, vegetables, and stockings into absurd and confrontational tableaux that boldly challenge social norms. The human body and anthropomorphic forms recur throughout Lucas’s works, often appearing erotic, humorous, fragmented, or reconfigured into fantastical anatomies of desire.

Initially associated with a group known as the Young British Artists (YBAs), who began exhibiting together in London in the late 1980s, Lucas is now one of the UK’s most influential artists. This presentation, which will take place across the three main floors of the New Museum, will bring together more than 150 works in photography, sculpture, and installation to reveal the breadth and ingenuity of her practice. The exhibition will address the ways in which Lucas’s works engage with crucial debates about gender and power, along with the legacy of surrealism—from her clever transformations of everyday objects to her exploration of sexual ambiguity and the tension between the familiar and the disorienting or absurd.

“Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel” will feature some of Lucas’s most important projects, including early sculptures from the 1990s that substitute domestic furniture for human body parts, and enlarged spreads from tabloid newspapers from the same period that reflect objectified representations of the female body. Alongside the photographic self-portraits that Lucas has produced throughout her career, the exhibition features biomorphic sculptures including her stuffed-stocking Bunnies (1997–ongoing) and NUDS (2009–ongoing), the Penetralia series (2008–ongoing), and selections from her installations at the Freud Museum in London (2000) and the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2015). These works, which complicate inscribed codes of sexual and social normativity, have never been shown together in the United States. Lucas is also creating new sculptural works for the exhibition, which will be exhibited in an installation on the New Museum’s Fourth Floor.

The exhibition is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Margot Norton, Curator. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue copublished by the New Museum and Phaidon Press. The catalogue includes an interview with Sarah Lucas conducted by Massimiliano Gioni, as well as contributions by Whitney Chadwick, Anne Ellegood, Angus Fairhurst, Quinn Latimer, Maggie Nelson, Linda Nochlin, Margot Norton, and Anne Wagner.

Sarah Lucas (b. 1962, London, UK) lives and works in Suffolk, UK. She was included in the now-legendary group exhibition “Freeze” (1988), organized by Damien Hirst at the Surrey Docks in London Docklands. For six months in 1993, she collaborated with fellow artist Tracey Emin on The Shop, for which the duo made and sold objects such as T-shirts, paper badges, and printed mugs in a London storefront. Lucas has since exhibited internationally, at institutions such as Tate Britain, London (2004); Tate Modern, London (2002); the Freud Museum, London (2000); Tecla Sala, Barcelona (2000); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1997); Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1996); Portikus, Frankfurt (1996); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1993). In 2005, a traveling retrospective of her work was shown at Kunsthalle Zürich, Kunstverein Hamburg, and Tate Liverpool. Recent solo exhibition include “Good Muse,” Legion of Honor, San Francisco (2017); “INNAMEMORABILIAMUMBUM,” Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (2016); “POWER IN WOMAN,” Sir John Soane’s Museum, London (2016); “Sarah Lucas,” Tramway, Glasgow (2014); the retrospective “SITUATION Absolute Beach Man Rubble” at Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); “NOB + Gelatin,” Secession, Vienna (2013); and “Ordinary Things,” Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2012). Lucas represented Britain at the 2015 Venice Biennale with her exhibition “I SCREAM DADDIO.”