Lucas Samaras: Gold (1998)
Softcover, 6 x 4.75 inches, 80 pages, full color illustrations throughout
The works of Lucas Samaras can be understood through one unifying principle: the artist’s “natural instinct for subversion.” Rather than springing from an urge to rebel, however, Samaras’ originality and nonconformity are centered in treating art as a mutable subject. Samaras spent two years crafting gold jewelry, modeling them first in chicken wire, then casting them in solid 22-karat gold. His use of chicken wire (with the holes filled in with thick paint prior to casting) contrasts the modest, “low” material of the wire with the “high” material of gold, with its historical significance and implications of wealth. The pieces are so heavy that the wearer remains conscious of their weight, providing both pleasure and pain—a tradition from ancient ritualistic jewelry, and one that aligns with Samaras’ thematic exploration of the body and its sensations. Samaras made approximately 60 pieces in gold; the items in this book were exhibited at the PaceWildenstein Gallery in 1998.