Fighting Fire with Fire (from Self Portraits series 1990-98)

Lucas, Sarah
Sarah Lucas was born in London, in 1962. After leaving the Working Men's College, London, in 1983 she attended the London College of Printmaking and then transferred to Goldsmith’s College to complete her studies in art from 1984 to 1987. In 1988 she participated in the renowned group exhibition Freeze with contemporaries and fellow graduates of Goldsmiths, including Angus Fairhurst, Damien Hirst, and Gary Hume. Other works and exhibitions include The Shop in Bethnal Green Road, which Lucas opened and ran with artist Tracey Emin for six months in 1993 and Sensation, an exhibition from the collection of Charles Saatchi at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1997. Lucas continues to work and exhibit in partnership with the London gallery Sadie Coles HQ. In 1999 Lucas recycled twelve of her self portraits to make a set of prints. 'Fighting Fire with Fire' is part of this series and is considered to be one of the most iconic of Lucas's images. She claims that she had one clear idea for this work, which was 'to get a long ash'; rather than trying to look 'defiant', she wanted to convey a more natural look. Subsequent to the image being printed in a magazine, Lucas took the more grainy photo-image and used this as the final self-portrait. She argues that 'this whole defiant idea is really to do with texture' and the influence that this can have 'on people's perception of what the photo is conveying.' Felice McDowell
  • Artwork Details: 97 x 73.3cm
  • Edition: 1/150 (+ 15 Artist's proofs)
  • Material description: iris print
  • Credit line: © the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London
  • Theme: Portrait
  • Medium: Photograph
  • Accession number: ACC10/2000



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.