Sarah Lucas

Shine On


Not on display
Sarah Lucas born 1962
4 photocopies on paper on wooden panel
Image: 306 x 406 mm
image: 306 x 406 mm
image: 306 x 406 mm
image: 306 x 406 mm
Purchased 1998


This is one of a series of enlarged double-page spreads from tabloid newspapers, the titles of which are taken from the headlines (see Tate P78205-7). Lucas became frustrated with the minimalist-influenced sculpture she had been making at Goldsmith's College at the end of the 1980s, which involved costly materials and an aesthetic that she did not feel was hers. Inspired by reading books on feminism, pornography and sexuality she turned to a cheaper and more immediate source of imagery that she felt was more relevant to her: the tabloid press. Here she began to explore the representation of and attitudes towards the female body in popular culture. She realised she had conflicting feelings about this, since she identified herself as a viewer with the traditionally male desiring eye and as a woman being objectified and dehumanised through her cultural representation. She began to use the imagery of popular culture's attitudes to women as the material and subject of her work. Her art functions as a mirror which reflects back unconscious and pervasive attitudes by highlighting their manifestation, usually through literal representation.

'I use sexist attitudes because they are there to be used. I get strength from them …With only minor adjustments, a provocative image can become confrontational - converted from an offer of sexual service into a castration image … I'm dipping into the culture, pointing a finger: directing attention to what's there.' (Lucas quoted in Young British Artists II, [pp.3-4].) Lucas's selection of pages from tabloids exposes and ridicules the voice of male misogyny by allowing it to speak without mediation. She has picked particularly extreme and ridiculous examples of working-class male attitudes towards women, albeit entirely in character with the overall tone of the newspapers. Each main text about sex in these double-spreads, which document fantasised male and female insatiability, is supported by a shorter article covering dishonest and criminal acts, all perpetrated by men, which further undermines the masculine voice. Shine On (taken from The Sport) features a photograph of a semi-topless model in a bikini eating an ice cream. The headline 'Hello Stranger' is addressed to the sun and the woman at the same time. The article covers incidents caused by a heat-wave ranging from stilettos getting stuck in melting tar to people stripping off on the beach. On the bottom right hand corner of the page, 'Dial a Date' offers the reader phone lines for another version of sun and sex. The other article on the page is about a sixteen-year old male thief and fraudster. Two of Lucas's double-spreads were shown as giant photocopied posters in her first solo exhibition at City Racing, London, called Penis Nailed to a Board (1992).

Further reading:
Young British Artists II, exhibition catalogue, Saatchi Collection, London 1993, [pp.3-4]
Gordon Burn, 'Sister Sarah', Guardian Weekend, November 23 1996, pp.26-33
Sarah Lucas, exhibition catalogue, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam 1996

Elizabeth Manchester
August 2000

Display caption

This work is an enlargement of a tabloid newspaper double-page spread, otherwise unchanged by Lucas. ‘I use sexist attitudes because they are there to be used,’ she has said, ‘I’m dipping into the culture, pointing a finger: directing attention to what’s there.’ Even though Lucas is somewhat resistant to her work being labelled as ‘Feminist Art’, literature on feminism and sexual politics has had a huge influence on her work. The majority of it engages with the objectification of the female body and with gender stereotypes, using the casual language of everyday sexism to confront and dissect them.

Gallery label, February 2016

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