Sarah Lucas

Biography of Sarah Lucas

Sarah Lucas’ forthright, explosive, shocking and often moving artwork sheds light on the inherent biases that exist in contemporary society. With great wit and skill, she converts everyday items into objects of symbolic power and undermines British cultural conventions and gender stereotypes. Her work rails against everyday misogyny, and challenges gendered nature of representation in modern culture by drawing attention to her own body.


Born in Holloway, London in 1962, Sarah Lucas grew up on a council estate with her father, a milkman and her mother, a part-time gardener. She left school at 16 before travelling around Europe in the hope of discovering what she wanted to do with her life. On her return she enrolled in 1987 at Goldsmiths College in London. Her first real solo exhibition “Penis Nailed to a Board”, took place in 1992, but she had earlier played an important part in the landmark exhibition “Freeze”, 1988 and later in “Sensation” in 1997.


Sarah Lucas was always the hedonistic and creative center of the Young British Artist (YBAs). The movement that would launch an entire generation of artists including Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn and her ex-boyfriend Angus Fairhurst. It was with her former close-collaborator, Tracey Emin, that she opened a shop on Bethnal Green Road selling handmade key-rings and T-shirts emblazoned with lewd statements. Anarchic and sexualized, the artworks were provocative, moving, tragic, and fun.


Gradually she developed her own style, creating bawdy and shocking artworks, like the photograph of her sitting cross-legged with fried eggs on her breasts, Self-Portrait with Fried Eggs, 1996—a blunt, sardonic and unforgettable comment on gender and the “male gaze”.


In Sarah Lucas’ exhibition at the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2015, the artwork could be viewed as a celebration of perversion and pleasure, and dedicated to the delights of people in their private spheres. Featuring incomplete plasters casts of bodies from friends, sexualized or not, and occasionally with a cigarette protruding from an orifice.


She now works mainly in a studio in Suffolk in a house previously owned by the composer Benjamin Britten. She has had numerous international solo exhibitions including at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Kunsthalle Zurich. Alongside Damien Hirst and Angus Fairhurst she put on a show at Tate Britain. In 2013 she was given a retrospective of her work at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. Sarah Lucas’ artwork can be found in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York, the Tate and the Saatchi Collection both in London.

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