Sarah Lucas, ‘Priapus’, 2013, Whitechapel Gallery

Priapus (2013) is an edition based on a cast plaster work made by Lucas as part of her Penetralia series (2008), a group of totemic objects inspired by her move to the Suffolk countryside and combining casts of a penis with fragments of found flint and wood. This summer, the object - a phallus combined with a rough-hewn sword handle - was scaled-up to create a giant concrete sculpture which is currently on view upstairs at Whitechapel Gallery. Resembling a pagan fertility emblem or archaeological find, this 'life size' version combines echoes of ancient amulets with the purist aesthetics of abstract Modernist sculpture - its sinuous forms and white material call to carvings by artists such as Moore and Hepworth. In its conflation of penis and sword, the sculpture blurs metaphor and literalism in a way that echoes many of Lucas' earlier works (swords are often perceived as phallic symbols), for instance Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab (1992) in which a slang metaphor for the female body is made literal.

Signature: Accompanied by signed certificate and bespoke MDF display box

Image rights: Copyright Whitechapel Gallery

About Sarah Lucas

A Young British Artist (YBA), Sarah Lucas has been satirizing British culture, sexuality, and gender stereotypes since the early 1990s. Often utilizing found objects, she makes confrontational, bawdy sculptures, installations, photographs, and mixed media works on paper, full of Freudian implications. Like Marcel Duchamp before her, she finds euphemistic potential in everyday items, explaining: “Things acquire, accrue a kind of powerfulness to them.” Food, furniture, pantyhose, and cigarettes are the most common objects she incorporates into her work, crafting them into abject, hyper-sexualized genitals and fragmented human bodies, alongside cast concrete and bronze sculptures. In Au Naturel (1994), an early work and a taste of what was to come, Lucas evokes a couple in bed through the choice placement of two melons and a pail next to a cucumber and two oranges on a worn mattress.

British, b. 1962, London, United Kingdom