Lot Content

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Details
Liza Lou (b. 1969)
Self-Portrait
cast polyester, resin and glass beads
59 in. (149.9 cm.)
Executed in 2000.
Provenance
Deitch Projects, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
Liza Lou: Leaves of Glass, exh. cat., Norway, Henie Onstad Kunstcenter, 2002, p. 34 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Norway, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Art Through the Eye of the Needle, January-March 2001, p. 55 (illustrated).
Athens, Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Monument to Now, June 2004-March 2005.

Lot Essay

In the Self-Portrait of 2000, Liza Lou adorned a statue of herself with an opulent gold-beaded encrustation, transforming her body into a luxuriously desirable object. She explains: "I don't identify personally with the finished work. In Self-Portrait, I was interested in casting a nude, to have a realistic body. In many ways, that work was a turning point for me-- the idea of using myself in the work. I had always been so far removed from the work. There was something about standing six hours it took while the fabricator covered my body in plaster bandages broke me down in some way. I remember when it was over, I couldn't feel my legs. It was as though my feet were turned the wrong way around. I was weeping, the pain was excruciating. It paved the way for me to do the performance-based work I have been doing in recent years. It also began a pared-down approach to my figurative sculpture" (T. Marlow, "Interview with Liza Lou," Liza Lou, exhibition catalogue, London: White Cube, 2006).

Her self-representation is highly emblematic: black stilettos and red lipstick signify glamour. Lou renders the figure in a more natural, relaxed contraposto, but her impenetrable gaze reveals her doll-like existence. Her self-representation is only a mirage of naturalism. "In her Self-Portrait, made out of shimmering gold beads, Lou presents an enchanted, dazzling vision of herself. Like all of her works this, too is an intensely physical, hyper-optical, stunning object of desire that categorically re-instates the concept of beauty and possesses a hallucinatory allure and luxurious radiance"(K. Gregos, "What's cooking," Fusion Cuisine, exh. cat., Deste Foundation, Athens, 2002, p. 65). This work, a stylized artifice of seductive extravagance and flamboyance, is a vision of perfection. Her purposefully flawless glamorous self-representation is clearly meant to seduce the viewer. Lou exploits the conventional associations of both her medium and the genre of self-portrait, thereby urging a reconsideration of feminine archetypes. Her work celebrates a joy in manual labor with an emblematic pop sensibility infused with folk references.
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