Purple Magazine
— F/W 2016 issue 26

Tom Sachs’ Art Odyssey

photography by ALEX ANTITCH

All customized NIKE sneakers by TOM SACHS

Last year, Tom called to invite me for a tea ceremony. He had transformed a section of his wunderkammer studio into a subversion of a Japanese tea house, constructed with Con Edison excavation barriers and blue foam instead of rice paper and bamboo. I was deeply entranced in Tom’s remix of the tea ceremony when he stunned me by lifting the lid of a lacquer box that I assumed would contain an exquisite tea biscuit. Instead of a biscuit, it was a perfectly measured line of cocaine. The ceremony was confounding, but the taste of the carefully sourced matcha was transporting.

Some months later, Tom told me the good news that his entire tea house along with its extensive Japanese garden and his bronze bonsai tree (made from 3,500 casts of
Q-tips, tampon cases, tooth brushes, and enema nozzles) would be the focus of a major exhibition at The Noguchi Museum. In addition, his “Boombox Retrospective,” which had been enthusiastically received in Austin, would be coming to the Brooklyn Museum. Tom suggested that maybe now was the time to present the gallery show that
we had been discussing for 20 years.

Tom’s proposal for our gallery show was “Nuggets,” a presentation of his Sachsified versions of Modernist masterpieces. The doorbell to Tom’s Centre Street studio
is marked “Brancusi.” Appropriately, the major work in the exhibition is Tom’s response to Constantin Brancusi’s Le Coq, perfectly crafted from plywood, resin, and sheet metal screws, rather than marble. In Michel Gondry’s film Be Kind Rewind, the protagonists, video store clerks played by Jack Black and Mos Def, remake their favorite movies in the vacant lot behind the shop after they have inadvertently erased the store’s inventory. Their so-called “sweded” versions of movies become more popular with their customers than the originals. In his way, Tom has been “sweding” the icons of modern art and consumer culture his whole career. We will find out whether the audience prefers Tom’s reboot of Brancusi to the real thing.

There is an aesthetic equivalence in Tom’s world between icons of modern art and icons of contemporary consumer culture. Tom’s sculpture of a laundry basket, meticulously crafted out of plywood and resin, is mounted on a museum pedestal with the same reverence as his Brancusi. He worships the brilliantly efficient design of the lowly cinderblock as much as he admires a stacked sculpture by Donald Judd. My favorite “Nugget” is Tom’s astonishing and functioning exact-size reconstruction of a photocopy machine, perhaps the true icon of postmodernism. Tom’s work embodies a contradiction at the core of his unique aesthetic: his veneration of the purity of modern art and industrial design, and his love of bricolage and handicraft. His works are fabricated with the combination of industrial rigor and handmade artistry that have become his trademark.

The works in “Nuggets” span the spectrum of Tom’s artistic, cultural, and sociological interests, from Brancusi to McDonald’s. Among the resonant works are his Kelly Bag in plywood, canvas, steel, resin, latex, and nylon, and his plywood, latex, and epoxy Milk Crate, with steel hardware, his homage to a masterpiece of modern design. There is also Nutritional Facts, a giant wood burned chart of the nutritional content of the full McDonald’s menu. The three-dimensional works are presented on pedestals like rare tribal sculpture in the Metropolitan’s Michael C. Rockefeller Wing.

Tom Sachs is one of the rare artists who does not just create works of art; he also has constructed an entire aesthetic world. His studio is a bricoleur’s dream factory, itself one of his greatest artworks. From his distinctive handwriting to his influential films, Tom is always making art. — JEFFREY DEITCH

Avie Acosta and Max Masters at WILHELMINA MODELS, Alice First, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Ali Michael, and Zuri Tibby at IMG, Magdalena Jasek at OUI MANAGEMENT, Chiharu Okunugi and Jazzelle at NY MODELS, Viviane Oliveira at MC2, Ashley Smith at THE SOCIETY MANAGEMENT, Simone Thompson at THE LIONS, Charlie Himmelstein and Matthew Shapiro, models — Dennis DeVoy at ART DEPARTMENT, hair —Chris Colbeck at ART DEPARTMENT using DIOR ADDICT, make-up — Zoran Jelenic, digital technician — Jason Lasswell and Sam Katz, photographer’s assistants — Paige Silveria and Ali Kornhauser, stylist’s assistants

[Table of contents]

F/W 2016 issue 26

Table of contents

purple NEWS

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purple BEAUTY


purple TRAVEL

purple PHILO

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purple NIGHT

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