Who: Sarah Lucas has been labeled the most rock and roll member of the YBAs, as well as one of the most reluctant, never allowing herself to be defined by the group. Recognisable for her use of everyday objects, Lucas' art recalibrated the regular and banal items of everyday life into uncomfortably sexualised sculptures and images, contorting fried eggs, tights and kebabs into less than subtle depictions of breasts, thighs and everything in between. Yet despite running The Shop with Tracey Emin in the nineties and having Damien Hirst declare himself her biggest fan, she seems to have escaped the scene without developing a brattish bone in her body. Indeed, she has literally escape, abandoning London for a practice in the country where she continues to work, with her most recent designs being as functional as they are beautiful.
What: Lucas is launching her line at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano – titled simply Sarah Lucas Furniture. The collection consists of chairs, tables and a free standing partition wall, all individually signed, stamped and numbered. A furniture range from Lucas seems a logical – and exciting – transition, as she has often used readymade furniture in her works. Chairs with legs splayed over them; a wooden dining table on which are placed two fried eggs and a kebab. This use of furniture as a medium makes the move into its design a next level exploration into her own works. Her range of fourteen individually numbered and signed creations are more reminiscent of her breezeblock plinths, as opposed to referencing the readymades she often features. Used in her exhibitions to display her ‘Nuds’, amorphous form created by molding stuffed tights, which sit contorted and fleshy on towers of grey concrete.Why? Artists turning to furniture design is a delightfully common occurance. Rick Owens has made stunning Neolithic tables and chairs, made from petrified wood and ox bone, and AnOther favourite Ry Rocklen has also turned his eye to creating art that functions around the house, with his ‘Trophy Modern’ series being formed of lighthearted, beautiful pieces that relate to the artist’s lack of sporting prowess as a youth. Bleachers, ping pong tables and DJ booths are made from the plastic gold and glitter tape marvels of cheap trophies, and Rocklen even created a whole bar for the exhibition, a riot of kitsch colour and shine.
Made from concrete breezeblocks and MDF, Lucas's furniture is making direct reference to her earlier works – but towards an indirect part of it. By making furniture from the same material as her plinths – the ultimate form of display, a stage for a single object – Lucas forms uncomfortable questions about those using her furniture. Sit on one of her chairs, satisfying design and elegant palette aside, and are you art?
Text by Rosie Neve