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From today until 12 April 2014, Sadie Coles HQ will be showing 14 limited edition, numbered, stamped and signed new furniture designs by the British artist Sarah Lucas, on display at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano.
These limited editions – each numbered, stamped and signed – mark a dramatic new development in Lucas’ 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) makes use of 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 calls 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 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.
Sadie Coles HQ
Via San Gregorio 43 / Via Casati 32 20124 Milano
8–12 April 2014 (Tues: 10.00a.m. – 3.00pm; Wed – Sat: 10.00a.m –7.00p.m.)