press release

Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce an exhibition of new sculpture by Tom Sachs. “Connecticut” is the artist’s first gallery exhibition in New York since 1999. Following the enormous success of his most recent installation “Nutsy’s”, shown last summer at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, this exhibition alludes to many things Connecticut, the artist’s home state: Alexander Calder; David Smith,Yale University; President George W. Bush; Colt Munitions; McDonald’s; and affluent suburbs.

The exhibition’s most emblematic piece is a model of a Vise-Grip that rests atop an intricate wooden base, itself on top of a Shaker style bench. The Vise-Grip – a tool which functions as Everytool and which the artist calls “the symbol of bricolage” – is uniquely Sachs. The French word “bricolage” (the closest translation would be “do-it-yourself”) perfectly describes Sachs’s aim to build each of his operative sculptures from scratch, using building codes he has invented. The sacred work ethic embraced by the artist and his crew – “to show your work, rather than hide it” – is evident in every piece. From the wood-burned portraits of Dr. Dre and Flavor Flav; to a Presidential Seal which measures nine feet in diameter; to London Calling, an enormous chest (prophetically constructed from blue and white police barricades) which houses hand-made, operational guns for every song on “The Clash” album of the same title, and is configured like a mandala. Unlike so many of the mass-produced consumer items which surround us, Sachs’s sculptures make no attempt to hide the process by which they were constructed, showing the artist’s labor, mistakes, and decisions.

The centerpiece of the show is a life-size, black refrigerator, titled Vader. While two wooden doors open to reveal an impressive number of laminated shelves, the most remarkable aspect of the work is the functional cooling system welded from copper pipes. Related to this piece are two standing refrigerator doors, complete with working ice dispensers, the forms of which mimic Connecticut artist David Smith’s 5 Units Equal from 1956. The first is a polished 1970’s door which Sachs bought, but the second is a “dub” version: a hand-crafted wooden replica of the first, equally functional, but scarred with the evidence of its own creation. Though the latter door lacks the finish of the first, the “bricolage” remake reveals the artist’s idiosyncratic personality and signature touch. The ice dispenser (“man’s need for instant gratification”) is an object that Sachs both covets and disdains, and it epitomizes his ambivalent relationship to status and prestige.

It is not incidental that Connecticut, the affluent state where Sachs was born and raised and the title of the exhibition, can also be seen to epitomize this relationship. He characterizes Connecticut as a state in service to a city, but describes its distance from New York as a “contemplative distance.” Pressetext

Tom Sachs: Connecticut