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Sculpture That Would Make Rodin Blush

A new Sarah Lucas exhibition at the Legion of Honor cranks up the raunch.

Left: Titti Doris, 2015. Right: Self-Portrait with Fried Eggs, 1996.

On one side, there’s Auguste Rodin’s classically inspired life-size nude The Age of Bronze (ca. 1875–77), the figure’s arm raised high and its head tilted back as if in ecstasy.

On the other side, a Sarah Lucas work: a detached lower body slouched in a wooden chair, its genitals exposed, the torso made of stuffed stockings that resemble…well, a whole bunch of boobs.

The Legion of Honor is marking the centennial of Rodin’s 1917 death by putting his works into “conversation” with those of contemporary artists. And in the case of the museum’s latest exhibition, Sarah Lucas: Good Muse (July 15–Sept. 17), that conversation is going to get a little bit dirty.

And that’s a good thing, says Claudia Schmuckli, the curator in charge of contemporary art and programming for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: “The desire was to highlight aspects of Rodin’s work that may not always be the focus of our viewers when they encounter the collection in the Legion.” With Lucas (born in 1962), one of the so-called Young British Artists who came to prominence in the 1990s (and who represented the United Kingdom at the 2015 Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition), that means contrasting the sexuality in Rodin’s nudes with her works’ overtly political—and often raunchy and humorous—themes. In addition to the above-mentioned Titti Doris, the exhibition will include a series of plaster casts Lucas made of her friends’ lower bodies—many interacting with furniture and cigarettes in very NSFW ways.

Good Muse is the second of two contemporary exhibitions planned in connection with the Rodin centennial. And get ready for more: New Fine Arts Museums director Max Hollein is pushing the Legion in a much more adventurous direction.


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco 

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