The Hammer Museum’s recently opened “Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel,” is the first American survey of one of the United Kingdom’s most influential artists, Sarah Lucas, who during the past 30 years, 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 furniture, cigarettes, vegetables, and stockings into absurd and confrontational tableaux that boldly challenge social norms. The human body and anthropomorphic forms recur throughout Lucas’ works, often appearing erotic, humorous, fragmented, or reconfigured into fantastical anatomies of desire.
Alongside new sculptural works created for the exhibition, “Au Naturel” features 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. In addition to 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.
“Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel” is organized by the New Museum, New York. The exhibition is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson, artistic director, and Margot Norton, curator. The Hammer's presentation is organized by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, with Nika Chilewich, curatorial assistant.