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Sarah Lucas: HAPPY GAS

Sarah Lucas HAPPY GAS Installation View at Tate Britain 2023. © Sarah Lucas. Photo © Tate (Lucy Green)
Sarah Lucas HAPPY GAS Installation View at Tate Britain 2023. © Sarah Lucas. Photo © Tate (Lucy Green)

Tate Britain presents a major survey of the work of Sarah Lucas. One of the leading figures of her generation, Lucas is internationally celebrated for her bold and irreverent work, often exploring the human body, mortality, and very British experiences of sex, class and gender. This exhibition brings together more than 75 works spanning four decades, from breakthrough early sculptures and photographs to brand new works being shown for the first time. Devised in close dialogue with the artist and presented in her own voice, this survey takes a fresh look at Lucas’s practice to date.

Sarah Lucas rose to prominence among the Young British Artists of the early 1990s. She attended Goldsmiths College from 1984-87 and showed her work in Freeze, the legendary exhibition curated by Damien Hirst in 1988. Exhibiting together and sharing a playful and daring approach to materials and images, this generation challenged the British art world and made an indelible impact on the cultural landscape. Tate Britain’s exhibition begins with some of Lucas’s early works from this era, including those made from tabloid newspaper spreads like Sod You Gits 1990 and Fat, Forty and Flab-ulous 1990. These introduce the artist’s use of innuendo and word-play, as well as her interest in feminist discourse and representations of the female body. Her early career is also reconsidered as part of a wider story, from her childhood to her life today, highlighting her ongoing examination of social conditions beyond the confines of the art world.

Lucas’ use of chairs, and her evocation of seated figures, have a central role in the exhibition. Lucas explains, “I decided to hang the exhibition mainly on chairs. Much in the same way that I hang sculptures onto chairs”. Across her career, she has often taken domestic furniture and imbued it with a humorous and unnerving honesty about sex and desire. Tate will bring together a selection of such sculptures from the 1990s, ranging from early examples like The Old Couple 1992 – made from two chairs, a wax penis and a set of false teeth – through to later sculptures like Hysterical Attack (both Eyes and Mouths) both 1999, which formed part of an intervention at the Freud Museum in 2000. Also featured are examples of Lucas’s signature soft sculptures made from stuffed tights, including Mumum 2012 and Bunny 1997, which was shown in the Royal Academy of Art’s landmark 1997 exhibition ‘Sensation’. The exhibition goes on to explore the growing range of materials used in Lucas’s sculpture, including bronze, resin and concrete. This change in materiality was a major departure from the techniques she had been using for decades, including tights and stuffing, cigarettes and food, which were chosen for their immediate availability. Examples include concrete furniture like Eames Chair 2015, bronze casts of stuffed phallic shapes like DICK ‘EAD 2018, and giant cast concrete vegetables such as Florian and Kevin 2013 which have been installed on the lawn outside Tate Britain to coincide with this exhibition.

Sculptures are juxtaposed with large-scale photographs of the artist from throughout her career, including her earliest and most well-known portrait Eating a Banana 1990. Blown up as wallpapers and looking down on her sculptural works, these portraits reflect the important role of the photographic image in Lucas’s practice and set up a dialogue between her older and younger self. This juxtaposition continues with Lucas’s most recent self-portrait series Red Sky 2018 shown alongside several larger-scale sculptures and installations, including This Jaguar’s Going to Heaven 2018 – a dismantled car clad in thousands of cigarettes – and Exacto 2018 a chair skewered with fluorescent tube lights. A series of nude plaster casts including Pauline, Sadie and Me (Bar Stool) are reunited, having first been shown in 2015 when Lucas represented Britain at the 56th Venice Biennale.

A highlight of the exhibition is a large gallery of recent sculptures made between 2019 and 2023, including 16 new works displayed for the very first time. Some show a return to the found objects and stuffed tights of Lucas’s early work, such as SUGAR 2020 and CROSS DORIS 2019, while others are rendered in finely cast bronze and resin. These recent works show how Lucas has continued to rethink the themes which have defined her career, including the objectification of the female form and the anthropomorphic potential of everyday objects, while consistently bringing fresh perspectives to her practice.

Notes to editors

Sarah Lucas: HAPPY GAS is supported by Burberry. With additional support from the Sarah Lucas Exhibition Supporters Circle, The Sarah Lucas Fried Egg Breakfast Club, Tate Americas Foundation, Tate International Council and Tate Patrons. The exhibition is curated by Dominique Heyse-Moore, Senior Curator Contemporary British Art and Amy Emmerson-Martin, Assistant Curator, Contemporary British Art, Tate Britain.

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Listings information

Sarah Lucas: Happy Gas

28 September 2023 – 14 January 2024

Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

Open daily 10.00–18.00

Tickets available at and +44(0)20 7887 8888

Free for Members. Join at

Follow @Tate #SarahLucas

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Related events

Art and Precarity: A Conversation with Friends
11 October 2023, 18:30–20:00
Join Sarah Lucas and friends including founder of The Other MA, Emma Edmondson. This discussion will reflect on the panellists’ own journeys into the arts and the barriers this generation face finding a route into the art world. This is a discursive event, followed by an audience Q&A.

Sarah Lucas: Exhibition Talk
20 October 2023, 13:00–14:00
An introduction to Sarah Lucas: Happy Gas with an auditorium lecture.

Sarah Lucas: Exhibition guided tour
28 October 2023, 9 December 2023, 10.15-11.15
Explore the world of Sarah Lucas: HAPPY GAS with this one hour tour within the exhibition.

In the Chair: Sarah Lucas
29 November 2023, 18:30–20:00
Join author, psychotherapist and presenter Philippa Perry for an evening exploring Gestalt therapy through the use of chairs in Sarah Lucas’s work. Hear Perry’s personal interpretation as she unpacks the works in the exhibition from a psychotherapeutic perspective. This is a discursive event followed by an audience Q&A.

Related publications

Sarah Lucas: Happy Gas

Edited by Dominique Heyse-Moore

Paperback £32.00; Hardback £40.00

Special limited slipcase edition of 250 signed and numbered also available

Accompanying the artist’s major new survey exhibition at Tate Britain, this publication features an interview between Sarah Lucas and journalist Louisa Buck, as well as new texts by writers Lauren Elkin and Nathalie Olah and a new poem by the artist Cerith Wyn Evans.

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