From 8th to 12th April 2014, Sadie Coles HQ presents 14 limited edition, numbered, stamped and signed new furniture designs by the British artist Sarah Lucas, on display during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano. These limited editions – each numbered, stamped and signed – mark a dramatic new development in Lucas’s practice. Materials that previously acted as plinths and platforms for her artworks have been reconfigured into stand-alone pieces including tables, chairs, benches, a desk, and a freestanding partition wall.
Produced in collaboration with specialist fabricators the London Art Workshop, Sarah Lucas Furniture (2013) comprises mass-produced, basic construction materials – concrete breeze blocks and MDF – that have pervaded Lucas’ art for several years. For each of the pieces, identically sized and exactingly arranged breeze blocks have been embedded into hard edged, minimalist MDF frameworks, creating a brutalist kind of inlay or ‘intarsia’, the antique practice of setting wood or stone within a surface. Lucas describes the concrete and MDF materials as “surprisingly stylish”, pinpointing their appeal through their “texture, colour – both of which seem very 'real'”. To Lucas, using these versatile materials is “meaningful in terms of their uses in the outside world. They say a lot and are also low key, they don't overwhelm the sculptures.”
In Lucas’ furniture, concrete fulfils both a functional and aesthetic role, serving as durable readymade building blocks while investing the furniture with a uniform utilitarian appearance. Indeed the grid-like appearance of the breeze blocks in the objects call to mind the modular compositions of Minimalist artists such as Donald Judd and Carl Andre. This can be witnessed especially in the monumentalism of the free standing wall from the series.
Certain of the works have been specifically designed by Lucas as gallery furniture – as seats to be placed within a larger exhibition of the artist’s work.
Sarah Lucas Furniture also echoes the artist’s long-term use of furniture as anthropomorphic sculptural apparatus. Chairs especially have often featured in sculptures as stand-ins for the human body. In the series, Bunny (1997 - onwards), the chair was a key component of the work – stuffed tights clamped to chair legs implied splayed legs in an ambiguous expression of either sexual availability or vulnerability. One implication of this new body of work is that real human bodies have assumed the place, or status, of sculptures.
Overt and often comic literalism has long been a hallmark of Lucas’ work, above all in her use of found real-life objects such as toilets, cigarettes and furniture. That literalist quality is extended in these functioning pieces: their radical blurring of art and life recalls earlier conflations of sculpture and useable furniture by artists such as Franz West, with whom Lucas collaborated on several occasions, and the American artist Scott Burton.
Sarah Lucas (b. London, 1962) is one of the leading figures in a generation of young British artists who emerged during the 1990s. She studied at the Working Men's College (1982–3), London College of Printing (1983–4), and Goldsmith's College (1984–7), where she participated in the seminal group show Freeze (1988). In 1993 she collaborated with Tracey Emin on The Shop, a six-month retail space on Bethnal Green Road, East London. She has exhibited extensively internationally, including at MoMA New York (1993); Museum Boymans-van Beunigen, Rotterdam (1996); Portikus, Frankfurt (1996); Sarah Lucas - Beyond the Pleasure Principle, the Freud Museum, London (2000); Self Portraits and More Sex, Tecla Sala, Barcelona (2000); In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Tate Britain (2004; with Damien Hirst and Angus Fairhurst); and a touring retrospective in 2005 at Kunsthalle Zürich, Kunstverein Hamburg, and Tate Liverpool. More recent international presentations include LUCAS – BOSCH – GELATIN, Kunshalle Krems (2011; with Gelatin); NUDS, Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, Mexico City (2012); Ordinary Things, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2012). From 2012-13, SITUATION – a space dedicated to her work at Sadie Coles, London – hosted eight consecutive shows. 2012 also saw the publication of After 2005 – Before 2012, a publication chronicling the artist’s work over seven prolific years. Her latest solo exhibitions include SITUATION Absolute Beach Man Rubble, Whitechapel Gallery, London (October 2013); NOB + Gelatin, Secession, Vienna (November 2013); and a survey at Tramway, Glasgow (January 2014). Sarah Lucas lives and works in Suffolk, UK. In March 2014 Lucas was selected to represent Britain at the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Sadie Coles HQ opened in April 1997. The gallery focuses on presenting the work of established and emerging international artists. The gallery has worked with Sarah Lucas since its founding.
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