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Sachs leads a tour of his show Handmade Paintings at Acquavella Galleries in New York



“This canvas is painted. With the yellow edge, sort of. In a homage acknowledgement recognition of Newman Barnett's Yellow Edge of 1968.”
“when you're making Ice I would recommend Hoshizaki Cube star. That's what we use in the space program for making ice for the astronauts Liquid cooling garments.”
“And of course the Wu Tang Clan was and still is in many ways the clan. A group of individuals to work together and form like Voltron to produce amazing sound.”
“This is me the Big Eagle with the chain around it's ankle. This is Oksana who I've been painting with for over 20 years. Who's free to go? Whenever she wants. But stays because we work so well together. Yeah, This Is us.”


00:00:08 Tom Sachs: Good morning, thanks for your patience i’m Tom Sachs and welcome to my show handmade paintings at Acquavella Gallery. On 79th and 5th in New York City, I’m gonna take you through the show. We’re looking about dozen paintings today, and if you have some questions, send em in. And little time for Q&A.

00:00:29 Tom Sachs: Let’s just start. With Krusty, Krusty the Clown, and so this is about 6 feet with a synthetic polymer on canvas. I’ve painted it with brush. And if you come close, you can see that there’s all kinds of underpainting which Nico Bella reminds us is called pentimento, where you can see that there are other arms underneath that I move things around and then this build up here is. Called impasto, these are Italian terms from the Renaissance that help people describe what these paintings are about and we can lean into those more. But I think it’s important for you all to understand Krusty the Clown as my alter ego, the unsuccessful successful alcoholic Catskill Borscht Belt comedian with the world at his disposal. Yet he still pray to his own weakness and indulgences. This is from. A box of KrustyO’s Cereal from the TV show The Simpsons. Um?

00:01:42 Tom Sachs: Just kind of work our way around too. The NASA meatball, which is kind of the original design from the 1950s. Of the NASA logo and it’s of course a symbol of my space program that you can. Like I would encourage you to watch the Space program on iTunes. This canvas is painted. With the yellow edge, sort of. In a homage acknowledgement recognition of Newman Barnett’s Yellow Edge of 1968. So great painting is in the National Gallery of Montreal and I’ve made other copies of yellow edge is one of the themes that I keep lacing through my Space Program because if you look at it Barnett Newman’s Yellow edges just. Basically it’s a black canvas with just a yellow zip. We can geek out about it on. A future episode, but he is one of the most important Artisst is like an early abstract expressionist. But my fantasy is after the apocalypse and all their all the canvases are painted over. I’m gonna have to break into museums to get other paintings to paint over them. And the first ones that I would go to or the Newman’s because they’re so plain they’d be the easiest to paint over like a Newman or Rothko, I think a Pollock or a Van Gough would be much more. Difficult because there’s so much going on, and if you use a lot of precious precious paint. Where we started with Newman’s Yellow Edge and maybe will post a picture of the Yellow Edge later today. You can see there really easy to just go and like a white white out and draw a painting over it. So again, NASA 2020.364. This is this means the year this is a 300 and 64th thing I made that year. For little reference, everything in my life is serial numbered. I’m 2007, one 53. I’m the 153rd thing logged into our database in 2007.

00:03:54 Tom Sachs: So let’s let’s work our way over to Reese’s and so this is like a 7 foot square against synthetic polymer On wood. But this is Palladium edging. Sort of like a candy bar. Again, you’ll see all kinds of Corrections we look through this whole show. Things that are important to me are when I make a mistake and I fix it sometimes I use white out like you might use. But in this case, will use Orange out I can see faces? I made the mistake on this edge and this painting with an orange out paint. Also synthetic polymer or acrylic to be less pretentious, but that’s like technically what it is. That orange shows the orange out shows and you’ll see that. Then then maybe you can see here this is. Varnish just on the on the Reese’s letter, everything else is unvarnished, just brings a little more light into it.

00:05:11 Tom Sachs: So Hoshizaki is the best ice cube maker on the planet, if you’re going to make Ice you wanna Hoshizaki Ice maker. I’m committed to the best, I use Golden acrylics. The best paints that I’ve been able to find. Incredible customer service. I love Golden, so shout up those guys yeah. Same with when you’re making Ice I would recommend Hoshizaki Cube star. That’s what we use in the space program for making ice for the astronauts Liquid cooling garments.

00:05:50 Tom Sachs: So maybe we should go into the other Gallery take a moment there. Hi hey, if you guys want to be part of this tour if you stand behind me, but if you could, just. Because we’re talking about, right, thanks?

00:06:04 Tom Sachs: So let’s go into the gallery. Thanks for much for coming.

00:06:24 Tom Sachs: Welcome to the Lower main gallery an. Let’s start with Ladurée and again synthetic polymer, an oil on canvas. And I think this was. This is kind of a very personal piece, ‘cause it’s combining two really important icons.

00:06:50 Tom Sachs: Shut the fuck up please. I know it’s the owner but come on.

00:06:56 Tom Sachs: In the 90s. When I first moved to New York. There’s this great hip hop band called Wu Tang clan and they kind of coming up around the same time that I was and the thing that was special about Wu Tang clan, besides their amazing music, which I recommend if you want to learn about them just get enter the 36 chambers. Was that the Wu Tang clan was kind of a first or maybe public enemy is the very first band hip hop band that had a great logo. This is their locus this Shallen bird. Also, by the way you. See lots of birds and this shows the Penguin. Eagles some others but. The Wu Tang Clan, in addition to being maybe the seminal 90s Hip hop band had great branding and they even had their own nail salon and had one of the guys had his own clothing company. So these are guys who really embrace the idea of kazaam. Conserve the total work of arts and not only did they have the Best Hip Hop record with tons of hits and great beats, but they also had years of doing all kinds of other things that encapsulated The the ethos of their of their team. And of course the Wu Tang Clan was and still is in many ways the clan. A group of individuals to work together and form like Voltron to produce amazing sound. And although I’m not sure, clothing line exists. I don’t think the nail the nail salon still exists the music still does and the idea of touching everything is something that was very inspirational to me. At the same time, Ladurée is this super pretentious bakery in Paris that makes these macaroons that are very expensive. There delicacies there terrible when you compare them to Reece’s or Snickers, but there really coveted the packaging is fantastic. If you go to their their cafe in I think. Champs-Élysées, it’s. Like great French. Bistro. Or cafe I got confused but I’m really good place to get chicken pot pie. Here, so it’s not as good, but the quality of the macaroons coveted and it’s a status symbol deserves a great thing to bring back from Paris. But of course, after I started doing that for my friends who love them so much. You know gifts aren’t for you there for others. They they opened in Paris Airport now. That’s one. Madison’s one in SoHo and so the quality good. Who cares, anyway? That’s the point. Was that Paris has always been a place of glamour and aspiration in the same way that Wu Tang’s ambitions were aspirational like relates them. So, to me, this painting is like up support match up those two philosophies coming from very different places.

00:09:50 Tom Sachs: Snickers is in a way a really important piece in this show becauseIn addition, it’s kind of the same strategy as Reese’s is is just increased density. You know, instead of palladium we got gold leaf and again on the central images, is varnish, but a lot of this in Japanese and kind of thinking about. About superlative culture. The best, and that’s what’s happening in. The the Hoshizaki cube star. And you know when you go to Japan only. Place in the world. That if you go to McDonald’s in Japan and you get a Big Mac, give it to you in a tray. It’s the only place where the big Mac you eat looks exactly like the photograph. Still taste like shit still fucks up your digestive system is still like. Destroying the planet. It’s the worst. But the the the dream is fully realized there, I think that’s why you see, not just in this, but in other works. Japanese as a symbol of aspiration status. But in the true sense, because technology. Is that is really just the true development of all tradition.

00:11:37 Tom Sachs: So let’s. But I think it is talk about maybe not everything in the show, but a couple more. And then we can leave time for questions is that a good strategy? Or if we do everything in. One sentence on everything. Right OK so. McDonald’s my way, really the best branding for the worst product. Again, the ultimate result comes work. McDonald’s nature numbers of real estate company McDonald’s Corporation owns the land underneath all those restaurants. And rented to the franchisees. That company works structurally. And yes, I do eat there when I’m on the road.

00:12:25 Tom Sachs: Eagles Nest is the logo of the studio and you might have also seen we have a jersey Eagles nest that we wear in the studio. And it’s 1991. Is the year that I moved to New York City and started painting in the Studio. This is me the Big Eagle with the chain around it’s ankle. This is Oksana who I’ve been painting with for over 20 years. Who’s free to go? Whenever she wants. But stays because we work so well together. Yeah, This Is us.

00:13:02 Tom Sachs: Again. Yeah. So yeah, I like again Nestle’s Crunch. My it was. My favourite. It’s kind of shitty when you compare it with the Ritters Sport. But if you want to get Nestle’s Crunch, I would encourage you just go to fancy Dell Ritters Sport Corn Flakes are better, but it is worth checking out. This being the best example show.Over white out and have corrected paint. Thanks so here you can see the. ‘C’ was painted. In red it was too far over. I moved it and you’ll see all kinds of White out. Blue out. You’ll even see red out. And then the in some of the colors that the crunch is highlighted with acrylic. And here you can see this massive blowout stroke. So again, the idea is like Apple can never make anything as as as shitty as I make, right? I could never make an iPhone, but. This there is no tolerance in our time for things that show the evidence of the human being. Yet there’s nothing more important than the fact that we all exist. That we are individuals.

00:14:18 Tom Sachs: So Family Guy. A little bit different the other works in this room. This is marquetry so plywood. These letters are all cut out, maybe just zoom right in and just get into the nugget. Of a family Guy. I think you can see Brian right?

00:15:06 Tom Sachs: Chicken in a biscuit was part of my youth mythology. It was it’s a Nabisco cracker. But when I’m a kid, you can only get it in California, and so we brought it back. Or people brought back as a present. Had a particular weird smell, almost like a sexual smell we always imagined that’s what sex would smell like. We think it was probably just like soup powder on a Ritz cracker. And I was imagined by my surfing dreams. If we made a rock video about this painting, it would be that song Surfin Bird with a beautiful surfer running onto the shore giving the finger.

00:15:50 Tom Sachs: Maybe last is. Synthetic polymer is a background gold 24 karat gold leaf is the cloud and. The and the. Plane is woodburned. This is synthesis of. Of Andy Warhols Matchbook with. A matchbook that was used on air? Air Force One. And again, this is more of a composite of different techniques. Wood burning, otherwise known as pyrography. And you can see this smoke. Any good real sandpaper and paint? And paint you can see all 50 stars.

00:16:48 Tom Sachs: So maybe I don’t know how long I wanna do this for. But it, Might be good to take a few minutes and answer Some questions. If you want. Or yeah, I mean he had some. Questions that you saved from before.

00:17:01 Erum: We had a few come in. Let’s go into the main Hall.

00:17:27 Tom Sachs: Maybe the question you had was like why the American flag?

00:17:31 Erum: Yeah, tell us.

00:17:34 Tom Sachs: About how inspiration, if you look at all the things that show these are all things that that I aspire to, I think Wu Tang clan happened. I was inspired by the creativity beyond the narrow confines of hip hop in to have the whole world or the idea. Eagles nest paintings like having a crest that was like about world domination that you could do everything that that you. That you really wanted you’re only limited by imagination. Similarly, if I’m going to pick one symbol of power for the entire world, it’s the United States. We see the Air Force one plane with the with the American flag. I just didn’t see domination and terror coming in as an American, and I can imagine other countries or not, Americans role in, you know, the Recon 1 coming Up your main. Road the highway that’s been there your whole life maybe was a dirt Rd when Your kid but now it’s paved with asphalt. That terror in the minds of the people who live there and replaced conflict and exploitation. So. Yeah, at the same time, it’s also the place where the freeiest place on Earth where you can do a show like this and talk about these things. Be really critical of government and not punished for it.

It’s it’s the best the best country on Earth, there’s no place that’s even close. As much as I love France and Japan. I do love you, Japan. There’s something about the the. It looks like a Goldilocks of Economics and development. Incredible natural resources that led to the development of this great place. Where we aan do terrible atrocities like what would happen in Vietnam, but around the same time could also, use all of our resources and created fantastic art project like going to the Moon and killing God just for. Pure intimidation ideas in hearts and minds, so these are truly American phenomenon and not to mention. That the greatest art of the 20th century, you know, the music comes out of the greatest atrocity in the 18th and 19th century. Which is which is the slave trade and it’s continued repercussions. In our society, but the flag represents all that. Good, bad, indifferent. That’s who we are and that’s why it’s a symbol for what it shows about what our lives are out and more than any other flag, it’s. It’s almost represents. The world because the apotheosis. Of these, you could argue really easily that. The ultimate product of the Enlightenment.

00:20:13 Erum: Another great question for those who only seen your sculpture before, can you try and contextualize all of these works within that, yeah?

00:20:26 Tom Sachs: Right, thanks, that’s a great question. So this is the first painting show I’ve ever done. Probably done 30 or 50 art shows. And they’ve always been a, uh. Mixup of insecurity me wanting to do everything, painting, sculpture, music, whoever plays smells of lighting uniforms. Just even the shoes and socks where it’s all part of what I’ve done, I’ve always had a couple of paintings in the background, but Allec Acquavella asked me to do the show. Because he really believed that these paintings. Incoming when I could give a shout out thank him and his family for saying no, these paintings are really good. You could do a show just for them, and I think that well, in a lot of ways of doing a design things work doing so many. Things can be expression of insecurity and finish I really want to embrace. Painting and me as a painter is an. Individual who did every stroke on this. I still work with my team help Filling filling, then, but this is. You know we’re a team. We’re teaching hospital, but it’s still generated by by my thoughts and my vision and. And I’m laying every one of these blobs on. I think It’s it’s also it’s important. Too. Take a moment and step back and appreciate what what you have and what you can do. And I think that so many of those shows that I’ve done in the past, I’ve done so many things because I haven’t want to like trust that can do a show. Just in paintings, and these are that’s.

00:22:07 Tom Sachs: Also worth mentioning that a lot of the strategies of sculpture are in the paintings. So for example we talked about whiteout right? Red out so you can see different colors of blue. I’m not sure how well the Canvas take different colours of red. Or different colors of white to show the correction. That’s something that’s evidence in the sculptures. You will always see the pencil marks you always see the screw that drew the glue drips that cum stains. The welds and never grind over a weld. That’s all present in the same level these Paintingss will see that was. Painted with a brush not rolled on, I possessed the power to use a spray paint can or professional Auto Body Shop. Or to contract like so many artists of my generation and professional to execute this in perfect style. But that that’s that’s something that anyone can do, and that’s something that is been sort of one of the characteristics of my sculpture. That’s brought in every one of these paintings, and there’s no exception like, even if.

00:23:06 Tom Sachs: We go back to Family Guy. Right, so like this seem is here because. This is a four foot panel. That’s how wide. Plywood comes comes in 4 foot wide sheet. These screws then sure we could bondo the screws and make them go away, but we wouldn’t see them. This pencil line here is because there is a frame underneath. If you turn to the side. You can see the frame and I represented this sort of triangulated geodesic frame. This is marker which is to remind you that there is structure going on in there, and these pencil marks are there to show that an they’re even sneaker prints from the making that are part of it. I don’t think that we intended to them, but it happened somewhere along the way. It was important that we keep them there there because they’re they’re from our sneakers. Sneakers that we made. For our team, so it’s it’s not just any sneaker, it’s ours. It’s got the waffle print.

00:24:06 Erum: Chip out.

00:24:07 Tom Sachs: So also these chip outs are worth mentioning, so we paint it, but then cut it out with a jigsaw and so always with the with the wooden sculpture we paint and then cut so you can see the evidence of it being made. And sometimes little chips. Occur. Again easy to fix them, but there’s more information leaving them to say this was done by human being with a jigsaw. This is not done in the CNC machine. This is done the old fashioned way. Like making love it’s not about getting it over quickly, it’s about making it last and making it beautiful.

00:24:41 Tom Sachs: So in some movie someone insulting someone by calling them an American lover. Like the idea that it’s like efficient and productive. But that was kind of fun. And yeah, same here. If you look at the side of this painting and it’s worth seeing inside that there’s piece of coned wood that was stolen from the street and then milled perfectly and meant to support this canvas.

00:25:02 Tom Sachs: But unlike that one, we did bondo over the screws there are screws hidden underneath here. But it’s because we made the piece and the screws were too disruptive. This beautiful Sky so sometimes I have my little rules, painting rules, sculpture rules and often cheat and fake them to achieve better result that this has screws and a pencil line. But it was too disruptive I wanted. This plane flying through the Sky and uninterrupted, and I think it’s important to make your rules. Some of you know about 10 bullets. Today I didn’t observe #5 beyond time, but we did give you notification. So by the way, if you’re late just it’s important that you just let people know so they can plan accordingly and today, with even if you’re caught in Traffic you still have a phone. You can always reach people. But the same way like one of the goals is to like share the evidence of your work. Here we broke that one but to greater effect.

00:25:57 Erum: And for those who don’t know Tom, how long have you been painting?

00:26:01 Tom Sachs: Well, I mean, I think seriously since 91. I don’t know how many years is that? So 30 years. Over 30 years about 30. Not counting high school. But I think Professionally for the first time I exhibited my painting was probably 91 or 92. But I’ve been painting serious for 30 years and this is the first time I’ve ever done a show.

00:26:25 Tom Sachs: And again for station notification purposes where at Acquavella Galleries 79 between Madison, 5th in New York City and this. I’m Tom Sachs this painting show is handmade paintings.

00:26:41 Erum: And it’s up till December 18th. By appointment.

00:26:46 Tom Sach’s: Yeah, so come by appointment only. If you are in the neighborhood just show up and you could probably like wait outside of no ones around, but make an appointment there still slots, and if you can’t make an appointment, just just show up instead.

00:27:02 Erum: Ready to sign off?

00:27:04 Tom Sachs: Thanks for watching. Keep your dick in a vice.

00:27:17 Tom Sachs: So we’re not ending?

00:27:19 Erum: We’re ready to end.

00:27:20 Tom Sachs: Ready to end, oh so we’re ending. Thank you so much for coming. I really appreciate it. I hope you come and see the show.