July 14, 2017 - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco - Sarah Lucas: Good Muse
July 14, 2017

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Sarah Lucas, Titti Doris, 2017. Courtesy of Sarah Lucas and Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin - Charlottenburg. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Photo: Jochen Littkemann.

Sarah Lucas
Good Muse
July 15–September 17, 2017

Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121
USA

legionofhonor.famsf.org
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

Sarah Lucas
Good Muse
July 15–September 17, 2017

Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121
USA

legionofhonor.famsf.org
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

"A muse isn’t necessarily a particular person, the model. It can also be an outlook on life (musing). Art and life are not separate. In Rodin’s case that meant the model or models coming to sit for him and he was the boss, the big ego. I’m a bit more egalitarian.”
Sarah Lucas

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco present Sarah Lucas: Good Muse, the artist’s first major museum exhibition in the United States and the second of two contemporary art installations commissioned for the Legion of Honor as part of its yearlong celebration of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) commemorating the centennial of his death.

Juxtaposing Lucas’s naked truths with Rodin’s mythologized nudes, Good Muse draws attention to the erotic undercurrent in Rodin’s work—often just barely veiled by biblical and mythological subject matter—while accentuating the dramatic changes brought about by feminism and queer theory that define today’s cultural discourse around the body, sexuality, and gender.

Good Muse will give American audiences an opportunity to discover Lucas’s pointedly female perspective in the too often male-dominated canon of art history," says Max Hollein, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums. “Her works offer important and necessary commentary on the frequent objectification of the female form and will provide a loud cry in the collection galleries at the Legion of Honor.”

Since the late 1980s, Sarah Lucas (British, b. 1962) has gained prominence for creating confrontational and often humorous work, which mediates between the absurd and the abject, the ribald and the poetic. Good Muse presents sculptures in every day materials, including pantyhose, cigarettes, food, furniture and concrete, charged with sexual and psychological power and a disruptive ambivalence.

Greeting the visitor in the rotunda of the museum is Margot (2015). Modeled from life, she is one of three waist-to-toe plaster casts in the exhibition that Lucas made of close female friends as they straddled, sat on, or lay across furniture and household appliances. Perched on top of a freezer, her feet dangling off the edge, the subject of Margot seemingly perpetuates and elicits an objectifying gaze, equating the female body with a piece of meat (potentially to be put on ice and consumed at will). And yet the orientation of the cigarette projecting out of her anus also implies the possibility of the subject’s own willing participation in the pursuit of sexual pleasure.

Nestled among Rodin’s portraits of important men and mythological and biblical female temptresses, are Washing Machine Fried Egg (2016) and Titti Doris (2017). With a pair of splayed pantyhose-clad legs strapped over the back of a chair placed on top of a washing machine and crowned with two fried eggs, Washing Machine Fried Egg offers an image of femininity ambivalently poised between subservience and liberation. With the eggs indicative of breasts and the washing machine (a container) visually transformed into a metaphor of an ovary-filled womb, the sculpture simultaneously iterates and lampoons the idea that a woman’s role is as wife and mother serving a husband’s sexual appetites and domestic needs. Made of stockings and cotton filling, Titti Doris by contrast, is all spindly legs and perky breasts. With platform heels too large for her narrow feet and her torso all but a bosomy bouquet slumped into the back of a chair, the figure projects an awkward aura: a fertility goddess wrapped up in the insecurities of a little girl, her sexual power not yet recognized or realized.

Communing with Rodin’s early works is Dis-ease (2017), a red mattress imposingly perched on top of a bedframe turned on its headboard. Pierced with tubular lights and covered with bulbous shapes of cotton-filled pantyhose, it evokes bloody connotations tied to sexual activity motivated by both procreation and violation. Dis-ease lays bare a complex and potentially disturbing terrain of desire that confronts the sensuousness of Rodin’s Age of Bronze (1877, cast ca. 1014); and the idealizing eroticism of his Fugit Amor (before 1887).

Jubilee (2017), a new sculpture made for the exhibition, strikes a coy yet seductive pose. This seven feet tall pair of cement boots defiantly faces Rodin’s apocalyptic vision of The Gates of Hell (1880–88), a juxtaposition that embodies the age-old association of sex and death. The material calls to mind the myth of "cement boots," a reference associated with organized crime, and thus aligns a woman’s sexual power with the realm of renegade violence—against which Jubilee rebels in both form and title.

Curated by Claudia Schmuckli, curator-in-charge of contemporary art and programming, Good Muse is on view July 15 through September 17, 2017 at the Legion of Honor. The exhibition is the second in a contemporary art initiative launched by the Fine Arts Museums in 2017 that presents the work of living artists in dialogue with the collections, unique histories and identities of the de Young and Legion of Honor.

Media image gallery available here.

Visitor information
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 9:30am–5:15pm
Visit Legion of Honor for more information.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco oversee the the Legion of Honor, in Lincoln Park and the de Young, located in Golden Gate Park. It is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco, and one of the most visited arts institutions in the United States.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 and, like that structure, was modeled after the neoclassical Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, in Paris. The museum opened in 1924 on a bluff in Lincoln Park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Its holdings span 4,000 years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; an acclaimed collection of Rodin sculpture; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

Media contacts
Helena Nordstrom, International Public Relations Manager, hnordstrom [​at​] famsf.org / T 415 750 7608
Miriam Newcomer, Director of Public Relations, mnewcomer [​at​] famsf.org / T 415 750 3554

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