Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel

Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel

New Museum

Sarah Lucas, Eating a Banana, 1990. Black-and-white photograph, 41 3/8 x 44 3/8 inches. © Sarah Lucas. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

September 20, 2018
Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel
September 26, 2018–January 20, 2019
The Store X and the New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

The New Museum is pleased to present Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel, on view from September 26, 2018, to January 20, 2019. The first major survey in the United States of work by British artist Sarah Lucas (b. 1962, London, UK), the exhibition spans Lucas’s entire career, bringing together some of her most iconic works and series from the late 1980s to today. Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Margot Norton, Curator.

Over the past 30 years, Lucas has created a distinctive and provocative body of work, transforming found objects and everyday materials such as cigarettes, vegetables, and stockings into absurd and confrontational tableaux that boldly challenge traditional notions of gender, sexuality, and identity. 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 has become 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, as well as 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.

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, which reflect objectified representations of women’s bodies. 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 has also created new sculptural works for the exhibition, including This Jaguar’s Going to Heaven (2018), a severed 2003 Jaguar X-Type—the car’s back half burned and its front half collaged with cigarettes—and VOX POP DORIS (2018), a pair of eleven-foot-tall thigh-high platform boots cast in concrete.

The title of the exhibition, Au Naturel, is taken from a sculpture Lucas created in 1994, in which an assemblage of objects suggestive of sexual organs adorns a mattress that slumps in the corner as if it were reclining. In an art historical context, “au naturel” commonly refers to paintings of female nude figures and translates literally from French as “in the nude.” Applying the term to Lucas’s greater body of work, the title speaks to the immediacy, intimacy, and directness of her images and speculates on the possibility of a natural state without the limitations of established social structures and gender conformity.

Drawing on art historical references, cultural stereotypes, and tabloid culture, Lucas’s works take a demonstrative stance against puritanism, conformism, and misogyny with distinct irreverence and wit. Her combination of these strategies results in a powerful evocation of the themes of death, sex, gender, and religion as they persist in contemporary life.

A fully illustrated catalogue copublished by the New Museum and Phaidon Press accompanies the exhibition. 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.

Following its presentation at the New Museum, Lucas’s exhibition will travel to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in June 2019.

Public Programs

Sarah Lucas in Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni
Thursday September 27, 7pm 
The New Museum presents a special conversation between artist Sarah Lucas and Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, on the occasion of Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel, the first American survey of Lucas’s work.

Outside the Box Gallery Talks: Judith Bernstein on Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel
Thursday October 18, 3pm 
Artist Judith Bernstein presents a gallery talk on the exhibition Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel.

Exquisite Corpse: Sarah Lucas and the Body in Pieces
Thursday October 25, 7pm
Bringing together scholars, writers, and artists on the occasion of Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel, this panel will explore strands of Surrealism, psychoanalysis, sexuality, and abjection in Lucas’s recastings of the human form.

Outside the Box Gallery Talks: Jamieson Webster on Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel
Thursday November 8, 3pm
Psychoanalyst and cultural critic Jamieson Webster presents a gallery talk on the exhibition Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel.

Outside the Box Gallery Talks: Jessi Reaves on Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel
Thursday December 6, 3pm
Artist Jessi Reaves presents a gallery talk on the exhibition Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel.

No Excuses: Maggie Nelson on Sarah Lucas
Thursday December 13, 7pm
Renowned writer and scholar Maggie Nelson responds to Sarah Lucas’s work and the exhibition Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel. Her talk will plumb the provocations, humor, and critical shape-shifting in Lucas’s practice and will reflect on the stakes of the artist’s embrace of pleasure and perversion.

About New Museum
The New Museum is the only museum in New York City exclusively devoted to contemporary art. Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation about living artists from around the world. From its beginnings as a one-room office on Hudson Street to the inauguration of its first freestanding building on the Bowery designed by SANAA in 2007, the New Museum continues to be a place of experimentation and a hub of new art and new ideas.


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September 20, 2018

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