Friday, September 28, 2018

Jill Krementz covers Sarah Lucas at the New Museum

Lisa Phillips and Sarah Lucas at the New Museum on opening night, September 25, 2018.
Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel
New Museum
235 Bowery
September 26, 2018-January 20, 2019

VOX POP DORIS, Lucas's largest pair of concrete boots to date, was created specifically for her New Museum exhibition.
A self portrait of the artist  with Fried Eggs adorns the entrance of the museum.
Sarah Lucas (b 1962 London UK), lives and works out of a small cottage in Suffolk.  Over the past 30 years she has created a distinctive and provocative body of work that subverts traditional notions of gender, sexuality and identity.  Her work consists mainly of found objects and everyday materials such as cigarettes, vegetables, and stockings transformed into absurd and confrontational tableaux that boldly challenge social norms. 

Initially associated with a group known as the Young British Artists (YBA’s) who began exhibiting together in London in the late 1990’s, Sarah Lucas is now one of the UK’s most influential artists. This is her first major museum show in the U.S.

Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel includes 150 works spanning her entire career and spread out over the three main floors at the New Museum. Featured are some of Lucas’s most important projects — early sculptures from the 1990s that substitute domestic furniture for human body parts as well as enlarged spreads from tabloid newspapers that reflect objectified representations of the female body.

Alongside the photographic self-portraits there are biomorphic sculptures including her stuffed-stocking Bunnies, the Penetralia series, and other selections that complicate inscribed codes of sexual and social normativity.

Lucas has also created numerous new sculptural works for the installation 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.

On hand for the jam-packed opening honoring Sarah and Julian Simmons (her boyfriend and collaborator of 11 years) were her myriad fans: Peter Doig, Cecily Brown, TJ Wilcox, Adam McEwan, Julian Lethbridge, Danny Moynihan, Michael Joo, Walter Robinson, Roberta Smith & Jerry Saltz, Jason Farago, Linda Yablonsky, Clarissa Dalrymple, Barbara Gladstone and Sadie Coles.
"I like to play around with gender stereotypes. And I like androgyny. All these meanings are constructs, and they're quite fragile really. They could be otherwise .... Women could be aggressors. Or, sit with their legs astride taking up two seats on the bus. Men could wear skirts. Bisexuality could be the normal way for both sexes." — Sarah Lucas
Massimiliano Gioni, the artistic director of the New Museum, and Margot Norton have curated the exhibition that spans all three floors.
Au Naturel, 1994
Mattress, melons, oranges, cucumber, and bucket

The title of the exhibition is taken from the 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.
Visitors having a close inspection of Sex, Baby, Bed Base, 2000. Sex Baby Bed Base, 2000
Bed base, chicken, T-shirt, lemons, and hanger
Winnie Awa and Jareh Das, visitors from London.
Works from the series "Bunny Gets Snookered," all installed atop and around a snooker table. C-prints of the artist are on surrounding walls.

This installation recreates the original configuration of eight sculptures from Lucas's series "Bunny Gets Snookered," which she presented for her 1997 exhibition of the same title at Sadie Coles HQ in London. The headless anthropomorphic forms sit atop a traditional snooker table used for English billiards; the colors of their stuffed stockings correspond to the eight colors of snooker balls.

Lucas's Bunnies languidly slouch on their own chairs, their stocking-skins stretched thin over chair backs and limbs limply straddling the seat cushions. Their forms recall the mutated and twisted appendages of German artist Hans Bellmer's La Poupée [The Doll] (1936), a book of photographs of disfigured and eroticized doll bodies that was championed by the Surrealists. The series title brings to mind Hugh Hefner's Playboy Bunnies—servers at Playboy Clubs dressed in provocative bunny costumes— and the men-only snooker clubs, frequented by escorts, that were popular in London's Mayfair district during the late 1990s. In billiards, the phrase "to be snookered" denotes a shot that blocks the opponent's subsequent shot; fittingly, it's also used as a slang term for sexual intercourse, inebriation, or being fooled.
Selfish in Bed II, 2000
Digital print
Complete Arsehole, 1993
Mumum, 2012
Tights, fluff, and chair frame
Mussolini Morning, 1991
Photographs, wire, and vase
Details: Mussolini Morning.
Get Hold of This, 1994
Liberty, 2005
Plaster and cigarette
Concrete Boots, 2005

We do it with love,
Sarah Lucas, 1993/2018
Wine bottle, wire and carbboard
Cock, 2005
Metal cockerel, cigarettes, and glue

Sarah uses Marlboro Reds because of the orange filters.
Installation shot.
Spamageddon, 2004
Tan tights, plastic and chrome chair, clamp, kapok, and wire
Octopus, 1993
Tights, newspaper and hair on band
Is Suicide Genetic?, 1996
Helmet, cigarettes, burnt chair, and cigarette packets
Close up of helmet on chair.
Down Below, 2018
Enamel bath and rubber acrylic
The NUDS series is on the third floor.

The NUDS series evolved from Lucas's prior works using stuffed stockings as a sculptural material, such as her Bunnies series (1997–ongoing) and the earlier Big Fat Anarchic Spider and Octopus (both 1993). The twisting, bulbous forms of the NUDS are more amorphous than previous works; engorged and knotted into themselves, they recall both the disfigured dolls of German artist Hans Bellmer and the uncanny materials of sculptures by Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama.

The NUDS fleshlike forms contrast with the austere angles and cold solidity of the stone bricks that comprise their pedestals. After their inaugural presentation at Sadie Coles HQ in 2009, Lucas created a set of NUDS atop adobe bricks for her exhibition at the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli in Mexico City, a museum designed by artist Diego Rivera to display his collection of pre-Columbian artifacts.


Lucas later cast these works in bronze for the 2013 Venice Biennale, their polished surfaces appearing gemlike and otherworldly.
Julian Simmons has lived with Sarah Lucas for eleven years, collaborating on many projects.  At the morning press preview he playfully flashed me “a titty picture” as he called it. He took the photographs displayed on the wall behind him. 
One of the five life-size plaster phalluses on display, all of them courtesy of Julian's own "member" and who is gazing at a scaled-up version of one.

"The great thing about these one-piece casts is that there are no seams. The plaster goes on, it hardens, and once your nob reduces in size the mold just pops off."

I must say it was nice learning all this behind-the-scenes curatorial technology from the model and co-creator.
Lucas's Muses bend and recline atop domestic items such as chairs, desks, and toilets. The room is painted yellow.

They each have a cigarette implanted in one of their orifices—an ephemeral gesture in contrast to the solidity of their forms and a playful snub at the classical tradition. Their plaster bodies are offset by the rich yellow color of the walls, which Lucas selected as a nod to one of her favorite materials, eggs, as well as to evoke custard, with the Muses standing in for meringues as in the classic French dessert îles flottantes [floating islands].

The yellow walls also recall a particular room of antique plaster casts in Sir John Soane's Museum in London, which served an inspiration for this body of work.
Edith, 2015
Plaster, cigarette, toilet, and table
A series of plaster renditions with a cigarette emerging from various orifices.  The torso on the far left is the artist’s own body.
Installation view of This Jaguar's Going to Heaven, 2018
Car, cigarettes, and glue.

The sculptural work created for this exhibition takes up most of the 4th floor.
On view is a severed 2003 Jaguar X-Type—the car's back half burned.
Detail of Christ You Know It Ain't Easy, 2003
Fiberglass and cigarettes
A Jaguar hood ornament.
2003 Jaguar X-Type engine.

Sarah Lucas and Julian Simmons arriving at the evening reception for invited guests.
Lisa Phillips and Massimiliano Gioni.

Sadie Coles is Sarah's London Dealer.

"I made the first Bunny almost accidentally, meaning I didn't have a clear idea of where I was heading with the tights I was stuffing. I hung them on the back of a chair to see how they were shaping up and Bunny stared back at me. I called Sadie Coles immediately and said, 'You've got to get over here and see this.'"

"It was my first big show with Sadie. We'd found a filthy old warehouse on St. John Street for the occasion. It happened that Sadie was also opening her first gallery on Heddon Street around the same time. She opened with John Currin but hadn't gotten as far as planning the second show, so she asked if I'd like to do something. In a previous show of mine at Barbara Gladstone, I'd made an edition of arm sculptures, Get Hold of This (1994), in snooker-ball colors. I decided to apply the same logic to a series of Bunnies. We hired the snooker table for the event." —Sarah Lucas
Gallerist Barbara Gladstone (whose New York gallery represents Ms. Lucas) chatting with Sadie Coles. Julian Simmons and Ricky Clifton, who according to Julian, “does interior designs for people.”
Curator Margot Norton. Paul Jackson, New Museum’s Director of Communications, with Sarah  Lucas.  Mr. Jackson and his wife are the proud parents of a new baby girl, Penelope.
Mary Carlson and Hunter Kennedy are from the Development Department. Jessica Chin is the museum's Director of Retail Operations.

Available in the gift shop is a fully illustrated catalogue co-published by the New Museum and Phaidon Press, which includes an interview with Sarah Lucas conducted by Massimiliano Gioni.
Also available in the gift shop is a limited edition (10) of Sarah Lucas: Eating a Banana (Revisited), 1990-2017.

The photographic self portrait costs $10,000 and is also available by contacting or 212.463.0610.
Sarah Lucas and art critic Linda Yablonsky. Artist Steve Miller.
Stonie Clark and LeLe Dai are musicians with a Brooklyn-based  four-women rock and roll band called the Straw Pipes. Marguerite Imbert, food writer and private chef,  with Alexandra Kozlakowski, Senior Publicist at the Met Museum.

Described by Julian and Sarah as "Our great great friend, Fergus Henderson. A legend, and globally influential chef."
Marianna Simnett has a video installation on the main floor.
Artist and amateur mountaineer William Richmond-Watson resting his broken ankle.
Ever the mountain climber even with a boot, I was too embarrassed not to follow suit. Adam Turnbull is a painter and sculptor who lives in Greenpoint.
Artist Cecily Brown, who has two large paintings on display at the Met Opera — curated by Dodie Kazanjian. Cecily Brown with her assistant, Josephine Messer.
Yasmin Kaytmaz and Mati Hays, recent graduates of Parsons. Yasmin designed her skirt the back of which reads: I Have A Glove On And My Hand Is On My Hip!
Artists TJ Wilcox and Adam McEwen.
Artist Peter Doig.
Clarissa Dalrymple, who introduced Sarah to Matthew Barney and Barbara Gladstone. Dalrymple is an independent art curator who lives in New York and is credited with having curated early exhibitions of contemporary artists in the United States, including Christopher Wool. Clarissa Dalrymple and painter Julian Lethbridge.
Roberta Smith and her husband Jerry Saltz.  Roberta is the co-chief art critic of The New York Times and wrote a huge two page profile of Sarah which is a must-read:
Jerry Saltz:  “I can’t handle the truth.” Jerry Saltz and Massimiliano Gioni.
Artists Danny Moynihan and Michael Joo.
Artist Alexandria Pembleton and her daughter Ameliese. They recently visited their friend Sarah in Suffolk watching her complete installations for her New York show.

They are standing with a bronze Tit-Cat Up, 2015, perched on top of Washing Machine Fried Egg (Electrolux), 2018.

Ameliese Pembleton and Wyeth Nice, 8, are best friends. 
Artists Judith Bernstein and Walter Robinson. As Walter attested, “the show brings into focus a history of fearless women artists: Méret Oppenheimer, Louise Bourgeois, Lynda Benglis, Cindy Sherman and, of course,  Ms. Bernstein.” Jason Farago is an art critic for The New York Times.
Leon Falk, a film producer, who is the husband of Lisa Phillips. They have been married for 27 years. How do I know that? I photographed them on their honeymoon in St. Barts and they have the framed picture in their bedroom. Dorothy Berwin (film producer) and Wendy Keys (film curator) on their way to dinner.
Sarah and Julian will be returning to Suffolk shortly after a full schedule here. Renowned writer and scholar Maggie Nelson will be speaking about Sarah and the exhibition on December 13th at 7 p.m. No Excuses: Maggie Nelson on Sarah Lucas

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.