Artist Talk: Tom Sachs


Watch a conversation between artist Tom Sachs and En Liang Khong (Director of Digital, ArtReview) on the occasion of Sachs’s new exhibition Ritual, opening at Thaddaeus Ropac during the inaugural London Gallery Weekend and on view until 31 July 2021.

Zooming in from his New York studio, Sachs discusses the multifaceted inspirations and processes behind the exhibition, elaborating on the new works on display, his references to artists such as Constantin Brancusi, and the urban and consumerist rituals that inform his practice – including the surprising and unexpected rituals embedded within city life.

‘The ritual that’s most interesting to me is the ritual of the streets, because the streets are always where I find my inspiration. […] The idea of the street extends to the bodega and ultimately the museum. Whether it’s a surveillance camera stack, a garbage can, a laundry basket, a bottle rack, or a Brancusi, it’s all the street to me.’ — Tom Sachs, 2021.

Influenced by the subcultures of urban metropolises, specifically the phenomenon of late-night corner shops and their community roots, the artist manually replicates household items with his bricolage aesthetic using everyday materials including plywood, cardboard, resin, tape, and paint. The conversation offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Sachs’s working methods and sources of inspiration and the complex art historical narratives within which each work is grounded.

Tom Sachs, Ritual, Thaddaeus Ropac, London, 3 June – 31 July 2021

About the Artist

Tom Sachs was born in 1966 in New York, where he lives and works. He studied at the Architectural Association, London in 1987 and graduated from Bennington College, Vermont in 1989. In an early exhibition, he made Knoll office furniture from phone books and duct tape; later, he recreated Le Corbusier’s 1952 Unité d’Habitation using only foam core and a glue gun. Major projects have included his versions of the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module, the bridge of the battleship USS Enterprise, and a 1:1 model of a McDonald’s Frying Station, now in the collection of the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo. An important survey of his work was shown at the Astrup Fearnley in 2006, followed by solo exhibitions at the Fondazione Prada, Milan (2006); Space Program: Mars, Park Avenue Armory, New York (2012); Space Program: Europa, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2016); and Boombox Retrospective 1999–2016, Brooklyn Museum, New York (2016). In 2016–17, he created Tea Ceremony for the Noguchi Museum, New York and the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas – a distinctive reworking of chanoyu, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, including the myriad elements essential to the ritual. His Swiss Passport Office, created for Thaddaeus Ropac, London in 2018, reflected contemporary concerns relating to Brexit, the Syrian crisis, Trump’s immigration policies and global citizenship. A retrospective of his work was shown at SCHAUWERK Sindelfingen, Germany in 2019-20, followed by Space Program: Rare Earths at Deichtorhallen Hamburg in 2021.

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