Sarah Lucas’s “Au Naturel” exhibition is her biggest yet. The exhibition is made up of 150 works of art across the three main floors of the New Museum which are being showed together for the first time in the U.S., focusing on her 30-year career span. The presentation includes sculptures, installations, photographs, collages, and self-portraits; all in Lucas’s provocative approach to the notions of gender, power, and surrealism.
Fusing ordinary materials such as cigarettes, stockings, and toilets, and substituting domestic furniture for body parts, “Au Naturel” subverts perceptions of gender, sexuality, and identity in an almost sarcastic (but still emotionally- stimulating) way. Referencing art history, cultural stereotypes, and tabloid culture, “Lucas’s works take a demonstrative stance against puritanism, conformism, and misogyny.”
Since the late 1980s, Lucas has repurposed customary objects into absurd and confrontational tableaux that boldly challenge social norms. “Au naturel,” the title of the exhibition, captures the aura of the presentation. ‘Au naturel’ commonly refers to paintings of female nude figures, and literally translates from French as “in the nude.” Initially associated with a group known as the Young British Artists (YBAs), who began exhibiting together in London in the late 1980s, Lucas is now one of the UK’s most influential artists.
“‘Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel’ features some of Lucas’s most important projects, including early sculptures from the 1990s and amplified vintage spreads from tabloid newspapers reflecting objectified representations of the female body. 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 custom 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.”