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The Jane Hartsook Gallery is pleased to present new work by American sculptor Tom Sachs. Known for his dry wit, this modern day chawan’ya observes, “There comes a time in every Jewish, middle-aged, college-educated American man’s life when he realizes that Japan is where it’s at… Mourning the loss of spirituality in our capitalist environment, we admire Tea’s integration of humility, prosperity, and spirituality.” For Sachs, that has meant making chawan, or teabowls, in addition to learning chanoyu, the way of tea. In this exhibition, Sachs has filled several tea cabinets with chawan and highlighted a number of “heroes,” individual chawan that he sets apart as embodying a certain heighted “thingness.”
The way of tea serves to give meaning to the meaningless for Sachs, and its ritual provides relief from the structure of society and the commitments one has to the world. He expresses this in his art by making ritualized objects to fill the void created by the purposeless production we encounter so often in daily life. Sachs turns to tea to reconcile his love of consumerism and his private quest for authenticity, while his chanoyu is an “expression of how spirituality’s been replaced with consumerism,” just as it was for the wildly revered tea master, Sen no Rikyū (1522-1591).
Sachs is best known for his cultural prosthetics. Sculptures created using materials readily available or found—bricolage—his plywood, boom boxes and NASA installations. A contrarian and provocateur whose humor and convictions are decidedly postmodern, Sachs has an appetite for consumerism and cultural fetishization. Unlike much of contemporary theory, Sachs embraces rather than disparages consumer culture. It is difficult to speak about the perils of society and the degradation of the environment while holding an iPhone X. The rise of consumerism has cultivated an aloof criticality reluctant to see its irony revealed. It is impossible to discern whether Sachs is sincere about his sincerity—the critical, academic, leftist response would be to reject consumerism as unauthentic and bourgeois, not to embrace it. Liminality is an overarching theme in his life and work: Sachs occupies the space between artist and manufacturer, proletariat and bourgeoisie, ascetic and materialist, reality and make-believe.
This is the second exhibition of Sachs’ chawans. Exhibited will be several cabinets of chawans and cups. Also on view will be several “hero” chawans. The exhibition will be presented with the support of Salon 94.
Tom Sachs (b. 1966, New York) is a New York-based sculptor known for his work inspired by icons of modernism and design. Using modest studio materials, Sachs creates parallel universes incorporating semi-functional sculpture, sometimes deployed by the artist and his studio assistants for interactive projects, as in Nutsy’s (2001–2003) and Space Program (2007, 2012, 2016–2017). His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York); the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York); the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York); the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles); the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco); and the Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst (Oslo, Norway) among others. He has had solo exhibitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas; 2017–2018); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco; 2016–2017), Noguchi Museum (New York; 2016); the Brooklyn Museum (New York; 2016); the Contemporary (Austin, Texas; 2015); the Park Avenue Armory (New York; 2012); Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT; 2009), Gagosian Gallery (Los Angeles; 2007), Lever House (New York; 2008); Fondazione Prada (Milan, Italy; 2006) and the Deutsche Guggenheim (Berlin, Germany; 2003), the Bohen Foundation (New York; 2002); SITE (Santa Fe; 1999); among others. His film A Space Program was released by Zeitgeist in 2016, offering viewers a glimpse into the artist’s studio practice, philosophy, and the narrative surrounding his 2012 project with Creative Time at the Park Avenue Armory.
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