Lust, False, Empathy, 2006-07. Brass, copper, leather, silk, bandages, organza, semiprecious stones, wood, gesso, fur, and feathers, 250 x 550 cm.

Vulnerable Beauty: A Conversation with Cathy de Monchaux

Cathy de Monchaux made her imprint on London’s YBA scene with sculptures that evoked the chic, sadistic eros of The Story of O and the desires that Lou Reed sang about in his homage to Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs. The disquieting erotics in de Monchaux’s sculptures from the ’90s emerged from incongruous juxtapositions of materials such as red velvet and steel, glass and paper, or polished metal and leather. Her signature palette further heightened the earthy associations: the bruised violet, clotted crimson, bottomless black, and burnished gold of her voluptuous materials created the appearance of engorged flesh and swollen internal tissue. While her peers were presenting installations filled with ashtrays and used condoms, de Monchaux was showing sculptures soaked in wine, blood, and cognac colors. In her most recent body of work, however, she has produced a series of all-white, celestial sculptures that subtly reference such worldly concerns as gender identity and the war in Iraq.