Silver gelatin print

Sarah Lucas. Smoking (Self Portraits 1990-1998). 1998.

Silver gelatin print, sheet: 73 5/8 x 50" (187 x 127 cm).
Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide.

SARAH SUZUKI: One of the underlying ideas Ellen explores in DeLuxe is portraiture. Smoking by Sarah Lucas is part of a series of images that revolve around constructing a self-portrait.

Lucas challenges the art-historical tradition of the female subject as a muse or an object of desire, and instead presents herself with an androgynous swagger.

Her self-portraits are actually anti-constructs. Rather than studio hair and makeup, she’s fresh-faced with mussed hair. Instead of a costume, she wears a gender neutral uniform of jeans and T-shirt. And instead of studio sets, she’s often out in the world, or in a filthy men’s room in the local pub, or in her back garden. And when she does use props, they tend to be very grimy quotidian things. Maybe it’s a cigarette or a grungy skull, or a garden gnome that she dug up from the yard. But it’s definitely an anti-glamour, anti-seductress version of a self-portrait.

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