The World Needs a Rude Woman
Renowned British sculptor Sarah Lucas is known for making jaws drop in the art world. Her work is raw, sexually explicit, and shows a great degree of cynicism aimed at society, particularly when it comes to its attitude to basic bodily impulses. Lucas meditates on gender, explores class and picks language apart. Although she is blunt, it’s not always clear which viewpoint she supports – her ambiguity often leaves viewers perplexed.
From YBA to the World
Lucas was one of the first members of Damien Hirst’s Young British Artists (YBA), a group of artists introduced in the late 1980s. She was still at art school when the group was launched with an exhibition called ‘Freeze’, which helped propel London into its rebellious space in the global art scene.
Am I an Artist?
According to Lucas, she was not certain whether she was going to continue making art after ‘Freeze’. She said that she had no idea whether she was any good or what the point of art was. Part of what made her continue was the realization that she could have fun with art because she did not get as much attention as the male members of the YBA group. Lucas enjoyed the freedom this gave her to experiment with materials with the sole aim of pleasing herself. And so she continued with her art, despite the insecurity about her ability.
Yes, You Are
Four years later Lucas became firmly established as an artist with her first solo exhibition at the Racing Gallery in South London. The title piece at the show, which was called Penis Nailed to a Board, was an interactive two-part collage created with newspaper and cardboard. It features a tabloid exposé about 15 British professionals playing sex games. The provocative exhibition name was gleaned from the tabloid article headline – Penis Nailed to a Board in Sex “Game”. Over the years, Lucas went on to incorporate tabloids in many of her works. She started making large collages, most of which bordered on being highly offensive. Her aim was to mobilize the hateful materials and exploitative tabloid images to her own artistic purpose.
Rude, Ruder, Rudest
Some see Lucas’ provocative work as pervasive rudeness, others see it as subdued morality posing as unvarnished honesty. No matter how you perceive Sarah Lucas, her work has made and continues to make a distinctive impact on the contemporary art world. Lucas’ most recent exhibition is hosted on the second, third and fourth floors of The New Museum in New York City. It opened in September 2018 and is scheduled to run until January 2019. Entitled ‘Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel’, the show features some of her most important work including biomorphic sculptures, super-sized tabloid newspaper spreads and a range of photographic self-portraits. It’s the first time this body of work is shown in the United States, but not the last. After this exhibition is completed, Lucas’ work will travel to Los Angeles where it will be hosted by the Hammer Museum.