British sculptor Sarah Lucas has been named the first winner of the New Museum’s newly established Hostetler/Wrigley Sculpture Award. The $400,000 prize is named for Sue Hostetler, a trustee of the New York contemporary art institution and will be bestowed upon a total of five women sculptors in the course of a decade. The money supports a new commission by each artist for the museum, and covers associated costs related to production, installation, and exhibition; an honorarium for the artist is included in the amount. Lucas has said her work will be titled Venus Victoria. It will be displayed on the museum’s plaza on the Bowery after work on a planned expansion to the institution is completed: Slated to be finished in 2022, the project encountered delays related to the Covid-19 crisis and its completion date is unknown.
The prize jury was composed of artists Teresita Fernández, Joan Jonas, Julie Mehretu, Cindy Sherman, and Kiki Smith. “We selected Sarah Lucas’s proposal for its exuberance, vitality, and irreverence,” said the jurors in a joint statement. “Colorful, humorous, and radically joyful, Lucas’s proposal imagines an unconventional monument—an ‘unmonumental’ monument—celebrating women claiming space in public life. The title Venus Victoria is just a perfect omen.”
Lucas rose to prominence in the early 1990s as part of the cohort known as the Young British Artists, or YBAs. She is known for sculptures embodying provocative or bawdy visual puns and often incorporating everyday materials like fruit and furniture. A 1994 work, Au Naturel, for example featured mattress, a bucket, a pair of melons, oranges and a cucumber arranged to suggest naked male and female bodies. In 2018, the New Museum staged a major exhibition of her work, “Au Naturel.” A survey of Lucas’s oeuvre will open at London’s Tate Britain on September 28.