Early in his career, Tom Sachs constructed a Knoll office installation out of phone books and duct tape. Over the last three decades, the New York-based artist has continued using everyday materials to recreate icons of consumerism as mixed-media sculptures (a foamcore Hello Kitty; a McDonald’s made from plywood, glue, and kitchen appliances).
He has also been crafting his own line of furniture.
Now, for the first time in more than 20 years, it is the subject of an exhibition in the U.S.: Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation is presenting “Tom Sachs: Furniture” in partnership with Anthony Gallery at the Stony Island Arts Bank on Chicago’s south side (through September 4, 2022).
From a maple-plywood loveseat coated in latex with Spinneybeck leather cushions to a folding NASA chair showing signs of use (each one “flew” astronauts to Mars via New York’s Park Avenue Armory in 2012), Sachs’s designs are a natural extension of his art practice—that is, with traces of his handiwork (joints, screws, any and all imperfections) on full display.
“I want labor to be the point, because everything in our lives is miraculously made with no idea of how it’s done,” the artist once told magazine of his work. “If we know how it is made and how it falls apart, we will know how to rebuild it.”
Sachs has a workshop in North Carolina with Stokes Manufacturing, which produces his furnishings in open editions. Each piece is numbered on a hand-engraved plate.
Below, see a selection of images from “Tom Sachs: Furniture.”