Timing is everything. Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel, a retrospective of Ms. Lucas’ work, has taken the New Museum more than a dozen years to mount. And there couldn’t be a more perfect time to explore this feminist artist’s oeuvre. Sexcapades of our government officials assault us daily, and women wearing pink pussy hats are speaking out about men’s sexual misconduct. There’s so much seriousness surrounding sex. Ms. Lucas’ art is irreverent and funny. She seems to be encouraging us to lighten up.
This is not an exhibit for everybody. Warning: There are a lot of penis sculptures, nudity and the use of ordinary objects ( such as light bulbs, fruit and pantyhose) to represent human genitalia and intercourse. Sculptures made of cigarettes remind us of our mortality. Eggs are frequently used to symbolize rebirth. Ms. Lucas makes sure that the takeaway is that no one is going to tell a women what to do with her own eggs! While the overall effect of this exhibit can be titillating, Ms. Larsen’s work forces the viewer to confront their feelings of discomfort. Cleverly, the New Museum includes the artist’s own words to explain her works which helps to diffuse any uneasiness a viewer may experience. She really just wants you to have a good laugh.
Massimiliano Gioni, the New Museum art director, thinks that viewers’ “jaws will drop.” Perhaps he’s right. The day I saw the exhibit men seemed a bit lost, but there were plenty of women who understood the humor in Sarah Lucas’ work and know that girls just want to have fun. LAR
New Museum – 235 Bowery
Runs thru: January 20, 2019
Adult admission – $18, Thursday – pay what you wish