Sarah Lucas’s New Exhibition Is Proudly NSFW—and Full of the Most Artful Phalluses
Take a look inside the British artist’s provocative, proudly NSFW exhibition.
Having claimed the main three floors of the New Museum in New York until January, the artist Sarah Lucas asserted her territory two weeks ago, midway through September, by throwing no less than 1,000 eggs at one of the institution’s trademark towering white walls—a performance that served to put in place one of her famed installations, “One Thousand Eggs: for Women.” (While mostly women, including fellow artists Martine Syms, Diamond Stingily, and Nicole Eisenman, served as her assistants, men were also “encouraged to attend in drag or dressed as giant phalluses.”)
If you’re familiar with Lucas, whose career took off in the late 1980s alongside Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and more of the so-called “YBAs” (Young British Artists), you’ll know that this is far from the most provocative work to be found in her new exhibition, “Au Naturel.” Don’t feel bad, though, if you’re not: While the past 30 years have seen Lucas’s work go practically mainstream in the U.K., her new exhibition at the New Museum is in fact her first-ever American retrospective and therefore full of examples over the past few decades of how Lucas has explored and commented on gender, eroticism, desire, and, above all, the human body, through everything from cigarettes and stockings to fruits, vegetables, and chicken carcasses. (She also specializes in self-portraits, like a 1996 one in which her breasts are overlaid with two fried eggs and the 1997 one seen below, featuring a torso-length salmon.)
Lucas has long tapped her partners to take these portraits, and some of them—or at least fragments of them—can in fact be found in the exhibition itself. Amidst sculptures like Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab—which use the aforementioned objects to crudely illustrate the prototypical idea of cisgender sex organs—are also real-life plastic casts of her exes’ penises. (All of which were, of course, made consensually; Lucas makes a point of how her current partner, Julian Simmons, “likes having his knob cast,” in one of the many far from stuffy wall texts.)
After centuries of male artists depicting and objectifying the female body, it’s these sculptures, of course, that make the most noise, particularly on Instagram. Take a look at some of the most artful Big Dick Energy that visitors have captured so far, here.
Related: A Rare Look at the Radical Lesbian Movement of the 1970s