Cathy De Monchaux

born 1960

Cathy De Monchaux, 'Erase' 1989
Erase 1989
© Cathy de Monchaux
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Cathy de Monchaux (born 1960) is a British sculptor.

Born in London, de Monchaux studied first at the Camberwell School of Art (1980–1983), and later at Goldsmiths College in London (1985–1987).

Her sculptures use materials such as glass, paper, metal and leather. They frequently juxtapose seductive soft elements, often with strongly sexual overtones, with harder materials, often spikey or in some way appearing to constrain the softer parts, resulting in work which is both sensual and threatening. Her 1997 exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in particular made reference to organic forms (crustacea, fossils), animals, erotic and fetishistic imagery, turn of the century decorative traditions, architectural detailing and saintly relics.

De Monchaux's work from the early 1990s often achieves this effect by the combination of red velvet and steel in simple and strong constructions, but later works have tended to move towards lighter colours, and a more ornamental approach.

De Monchaux was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1998. She currently lives in London and is a part-time teacher at the Slade School of Art. However, she has exhibited in the United States almost as much as, if not more than, she has in England.

In her recent work de Monchaux has concentrated more on subjects such as battles, unicorns and imagery confusing fauna, mineral and flora e.g. The Raft, State Secrets.

In Sweetly the Air Flew Overhead, Battle with Unicorns (2007-8), the work shows small soft sculptures of riders on unicorns entangled in string. cloth and tree figures. It is reminiscent of Uccello's Battle of San Romano series where distinct horses, lances and knights celebrate human control and clarity not least in the painter's obsessive use of perspective. By contrast, Monchaux depicts a battle with spike-helmet knights riding unicorns that struggle in a chaos of things: to be in a battle is to be inside a mess.

Monchaux herself has mentioned recognizing an unconscious allusion here to the Iraq War.

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