Larissa Pham’s new monthly column, Devil in the Details, will focus on single objects throughout art history. In this installment, she looks at beds through the lens of Sarah Lucas’s exhibition “Au Naturel,” currently on view at the New Museum in New York City.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed lately—partly because I have been a little depressed; partly because I have been jet-lagged and therefore awake for every sunrise of the last four weeks; partly because all the beds I’ve found myself in lately are so big they seem to take up the entirety of the room, like a ship so large it becomes an island, and the rest of the map not worth exploring. There’s not much to do in bed, and yet you can do everything there. A bed can come to contain everything. Whenever I change my sheets, I am startled to encounter the ghost of me so deeply impressed on my mattress, where for five years I’ve only ever slept on one side. A me-size shadow of sweat, surrounded by little archipelagoes of period blood and chalky haloes of come. I can still recall a post that was popular in certain corners of sad-girl Tumblr, probably almost a decade ago; it was a photograph of a mattress, quilted and faded sateen, and spray-painted. It said PEOPLE FELL IN LOVE ON ME. Once, when an ex really missed me, he told me he wanted to send me a photo of the bloodstain I’d left on his mattress years earlier.
When love is good, it’s like a Toulouse-Lautrec. You know the one—Le Lit. “In Bed.” All of life a haze of oil pastel. Everything thickly colored, rendered in tenderness, bright lines on toned paper. Two figures in bed, their shining faces turned toward each other in a warm room. When love is trying its best, it’s the Laura Owens rendering of the same drawing, from 2000, where the warm tones have been replaced with a stark wash of greenish blue, and the lovers’ heads peep out, barely defined—their eyelashes and mouths described with delicate lines. Read More