• Gold Cup Maradona

    • Sarah Lucas’ satirical piece Gold Cup Maradona, 2015 is a bold artistic manifestation of the cultural biases afflicting women in contemporary society. Exhibited at Great Britain’s pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Gold Cup Maradona amplifies the genitalia of a reclining male figure absurdly proportioned to mock the perverse bravado of chauvinistic behavior.


      The sculpture was displayed in a prominent position at the 56th pavilion’s entrance, making it impossible to miss. When referring to the sculpture, Lucas stated: “I’m hoping, if all goes well, to have on the outside of the pavilion at the top of the stairs. He will function as a kind of ‘Hello, come in!’”i


      The title refers explicitly to the iconic but controversial Argentinian footballer, Diego Maradona, and the specific shade of  paint, "gold cup" yellow. The outmoded but resonant cultural reference links somewhat ambiguously with the sculpture’s form; a grounded figure and a gravity-defying phallus soaring majestically in the air. One recalls Maradona’s transcendental moment of beauty and buffoonery at the 1986 FIFA World Cup when he performed a goal that became referred to as "the hand of God." The form of Gold Cup Maradona evokes and subtly subverts the recurring modernist British aesthetic trope of the reclining nude, most notably championed by artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.


      Gold Cup Maradona is representative of Lucas' noteworthy aesthetic strategies, the most prominent of which is wit. For Lucas,

      "humor is about negotiating the contradictions thrown up by convention. To a certain extent humor and seriousness are interchangeable. Otherwise it wouldn’t be funny. Or devastating." —Sarah Lucas

      By enlarging the genitalia of a reclining contorted male figure painted in a gaudy, eye-catching yellow, Lucas aims to draw parallels between the sculptural form's absurdity and the ingrained cultural biases against women by the fatuous vernacular of the male working class. 

      Seizing upon the body as a site for experimentation and manipulation, Lucas poses urgent questions about gender, sexuality, identity, and justice. This very same methodology has been utilized by Lucas throughout her career, most distinctively in her Bunny and NUDs series. Whilst both series employ similar soft materials, like tights and stockings, Lucas’ NUDS works consist of abstract knots or deformations which educe the human form. Gold Cup Maradona is a clear continuation of these same preoccupations but marks a critical shift in Lucas’ practice towards more permanent materials like bronze.


      Sarah Lucas, Bunny Gets Snookered No. 7. 1997, Mixed media. 95 x 64 x 90 cm. Presented by the Patrons of New Art (Special Purchase Fund) through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1998. Tate Gallery, London, Great Britain. Lucas, Sarah (1962-) © Tate

      When conceiving Gold Cup Maradona, Lucas drew inspiration from her longtime collaborator and friend, Franz West. Lucas acknowledged "…perhaps it ought to be pink – which seemed a very sort of Franz West sort of thing – but I didn’t mind that because I love Franz so much, and even this whole thing of painting sculptures was very much… with Franz in mind in a way…"ii A direct comparison can be drawn between this sculpture and Franz West’s, Lips, 2012, resembling a phallus's shape.

      Franz West, Lips, 2012, Installation view, The Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden, Philadelphia, 2012, Photo credit: Jason Wierzbicki, Philadelphia Museum of Art

      When Lucas emerged onto the British art scene in the early 1990s, she was labeled a de-facto trailblazer for a generation of young female artists aiming to expose many of the societal taboos embedded in contemporary society. Gold Cup Maradona embodies this energy through a critical lens in a way that is characteristic of Lucas’ decades-long career, full of sense, absurdity, and pertinent cultural references.


      Sarah Lucas, Patrick More, 2013, cast bronze, 73.5 x 53 x 80 cm / 29 x 20 7/8 x 31 1/2 in. © Sarah Lucas, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London, Photography: Steve Russell Studios

      i I SCREAM DADDIO, exh. cat., Venice Biennale, British Pavilion, Venice, 2015, p. 90.
      ii I SCREAM DADDIO, exh. cat., Venice Biennale, British Pavilion, Venice, 2015, p. 65.

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  • Maradona

    • "Even the most ordinary materials are subject to variation country to country. One can either get het up about that or go with the flow." —Sarah Lucas

      "For Anahuacalli in Mexico City I wanted to make the sculptures in Mexico. Knowing that Nuds will tap into the forces that surround them, the enchantment of the place, and its spirits. I chose Oaxaca for the making process. Or perhaps it chose me.


      Even the most ordinary materials are subject to variation country to country. One can either get het up about that or go with the flow. The flow is where the life is, and the surprising things. On the street, in bars, in the marketplace. Tracking down stuff is a good way to get to know a town. The one thing leads to another.
      Everything you need is around you somewhere, always. Of course you have to make a start. Start by not thinking it’s elsewhere." —Sarah Lucas

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  • Tit-Cat Eames Chair

    • Sarah Lucas was chosen as the sole exhibitor for the Great British pavilion at the Venice Bienniale in 2015. As part of her seminal show, Tit-Cat Eames Chair embodies the artist’s focus with surrealistic styles of representation.


      Whilst Tit-Cat Eames Chair references Lucas’ earlier series, such as the Bunnies and NUDs, it also builds upon the aesthetic employed by female surrealist artists, such as Dora Maar, Méret Oppenheim, and Eileen Agar. The chair displays the evocative potential of domestic materials while the nebulous creature enthroned on the chair encompasses hidden Surrealist iconography. As art historian Whitney Chadwick describes, “Lucas’ work intersects with that of a previous generation of Surrealist women artists drawn to the inherent power of objects, as well as with the Surrealist interest in the home as a psychological retreat for fantastical self-discoveries and a space of resistance and refuge against the barbarism of normative behaviors and government regulations.”i Borrowing from this tradition, Lucas’ Tit-Cat Eames Chair delves into common objects and scenes, charging them with a pseudo erotic sentiment.


      Sarah Lucas, Big Fat Anarchic Spider, 1993, Ordinary Things, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 19 July - 21 October 2012, © Sarah Lucas, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.
      Photography: Thierry Bal

      This figure, enthroned on the chair, recalls Lucas’ Big Fat Anarchic Spider, 1993, and Octopus, 1993, while mimicking the pose of a feline figure as the name suggests. These domestic metaphors blur the boundaries between the erotic and the body, a central motif in the Tit-Cat Eames Chair. 


      Sarah Lucas, Octopus, 1993, Tights, newspaper, hair on band © Sarah Lucas, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

      Exemplifying Lucas’ main objective of mining the deeper possibilities of the everyday, Tit-Cat Eames Chair follows the fundamentals of Lucas’ work.ii A treatise in form, material, and scale, Lucas’ sculpture takes the quotidian and transforms it into something deeply alluring. Grand, contorted, and glorified, Tit Cat Eames Chair is peculiar, yet recognizable, leaving an unshakable impression.


      Louise Bourgeois, Maman, steel, (1911-2010) © VAGA at ARS, NY, Credit, Manuel Cohen / Art Resource, NY

      i Whitney Chadwick, ‘Body Matters: Sarah Lucas and the Surrealist imagination’, in Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel, Massimiliano Gioni, New York, 2018, p. 96.
      ii Anne Wagner, ‘Sarah Lucas: Ordinary Language and Bodily Magic’, in Sarah Lucas Ordinary Things, Lisa Le Feuvre and Sarah Lucas, Leeds, 2012, p. 47.

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Sherrie Levine


Takashi Murakami