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Tom Sachs: Logjam

May 25 - August 26, 2007


One may not often consider a drill press or an office desk a work of art, but in the Des Moines Art Center's newest exhibition, Tom Sachs: Logjam, on view May 25 - August 26, 2007, artist Tom Sachs' work stations not only enable him to create art, but are works of art in their own right.  In the truest sense of form following function, Sachs' fascinating and often obsessive work stations allow the viewer to peer into the rarely seen spaces in which this artist works. Tom Sachs: Logjam, the artist's first one-person museum exhibition in the United States, is organized by Jeff Fleming, director of the Des Moines Art Center (4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA). The exhibition will travel to the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, in the fall of 2007. (right: Tom Sachs, Untitled, Mini-Z repair station/Mobil Station, part, 2002, Wood cabinet, various tools, foamcore, mini-z cars, controllers, Mixed media)

Tom Sachs is known for his effusive installations and constructions of a variety of objects more commonly found within the public or commercial domain. "Each piece speaks to Sachs' creative process and to the act of art making," explains Fleming. "These private works tell of obsession and labor, but add to these attributes a sense of playfulness and exuberance that infuse each of his objects." 

Logjam augments the prevailing discussion of Sachs' critique of consumer culture by highlighting two bodies of work that focus on the actual making of art objects. His highly significant "work" stations and what could be described as his "living" stations clearly exemplify the artist's sense of play.  While Sachs freely admits his art actively participates in consumer culture, his overriding interest actually lies in the process of making objects. Examples of his "work" stations include a wall-mounted cabinet with spaces for tools and materials; a tall, wooden wardrobe filled with drills, saws, and tape dispensers; a hand held repair kit with compartments for glue and tape; a drill press; and his Million Dollar Desk (2005-06) that doubles as a table saw. These "work" stations are the objects the artist uses every day to create his more public pieces.

Arguably Sachs' most personal exhibition to date, Logjam explores why he is driven to fabricate objects and how he chooses to make what he does.  His "living" stations function to support day-to-day activities and include a working refrigerator complete with beer; and a functioning toilet and sink-with a toilet-paper dispenser included. For Sachs, survival day by day is the first, basic level of existence; thriving, sometimes playing, is the ultimate objective. Occasionally the components of survival become works of art, but most often art happens during the second level of activity. Sachs positions the handmade and evidence of the hand as paramount in his work. (left: Tom Sachs, Million Dollar Desk, 2005, Mixed media)       


About Tom Sachs

Examples of Tom Sachs' work include a McDonald's fast-food stand, a made-from-scratch refrigerator, and an aircraft carrier tower. He constructs these objects from a variety of purchased and found materials, including stolen wooden New York City police barricades. Throughout Sachs' career, he has created works of art based on both high-end consumer products, such as Prada, Chanel, and Hermes, and on more popularly based products, either by appropriating their logos and products or by manipulating their existing packaging materials into new forms. Sachs has used these works to respond to, and often critique, our overpowering consumer culture and its desire for more and more status-giving products.  In his sculptures, Sachs blurs the boundaries between the mass produced and the handmade, the public and the private realms, while mining the embedded history of the object and his materials. (right: Tom Sachs, Lav A2, 1999, Thermal adhesive, foamcore, polyester resin, polycarbonate, paper ink, electronics, hose, Mixed media, 91 x 41 x 41 inches)


Selected related programs

Conversations on Art: Tom Sachs, Tuesday, May 22, 6:30 pm. Levitt Auditorium, free admission; reservations required. Reserve tickets at www.iowatix.com 
The critic Adrian Dannatt described Tom Sachs' work in a 2004 article in The Art Newspaper as "serious sculpture, luxury commodity, consumer critique, and ultimate fetish purchase all at once." The artist talks about his work and learn about the many issues he addresses in his meticulously hand-fabricated objects.
Gallery Talk, Jeff Fleming, director, Thursday, July 19, 7 pm, free admission. Join exhibition curator and Art Center Director Jeff Fleming for an illuminating discussion of the work in the show.  

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