The first American museum showing of works by Sarah Lucas (b. 1961) and Steven Pippin (b. 1960), Projects 44: Sarah Lucas and Steven Pippin features an eclectic mixture of unconventional objects, including sculpture, photographs, and installations. Lucas and Pippin are members of a generation of young British artists who, while not formally organized into any movement or group, possess a shared sensibility that has revitalized the British art scene.
Although the works of Sarah Lucas and Steven Pippin are very different in style, Lucas’s rich jokes and eccentric forms, based on visual and verbal puns, complement Pippin’s precise and introspective wit hiding behind a deadpan facade. Projects 44: Sarah Lucas and Steven Pippin shows ways in which these artists test the limits of our taste and sensibility, using humor to create unsettling visions of modern life.
Lucas is a sculptor, photographer, and collagist who combines a sharp, often daring sense of humor with an inventive, seemingly casual approach to object-making. The Old Couple (1991)—a pair of wooden chairs, on one of which rests a set of false teeth and on the other a hand-crafted phallus—is a vision of the sexes that is both terrible and funny. In The Bush (1992), she mocks the poetic comparisons of flowers to faces and female bodies by creating a large frazzled bouquet in which the stems are made of wire and the flowers of black-and-white photographic self-portraits. In 1-123-123-12-12 (1991), comprising two boots tipped with razor blades, Lucas takes a popular icon of a British subculture—the sadistic footwear worn by the more violent members of skinhead gangs—and elevates it to the level of Surrealist sculpture. In the simultaneously entertaining and provocative Penis Nailed to a Board (Boxed Set) (1991)—a board game comprising tabloid photographs of men involved in a large homosexual S&M ring in London—Lucas applies her wit to one of England’s most important recent right-to-privacy cases.
Pippin is a photographer and sculptor who refers to the origins of the photographic medium in a darkly comic way, making self-portraits using a room, bathtub, wardrobe, washing machine, and other objects that he has converted into pinhole cameras. In his work Follies of an Amateur Photographer (1987), a four-part photographic installation, Pippin subverts the viewer’s expectations by swapping a standard camera body for a toilet bowl. He then reveals the scope of his universe by capturing the entire photographic process on video.
Organized by Robert Evren, curatorial assistant, Department of Drawings.