Tom Sachs (b. 1966)
Property from a New York Collector
Tom Sachs (b. 1966)

My Melody

Tom Sachs (b. 1966)
My Melody
signed, inscribed and dated '© 1976, 2007 SANRIO CO. LTD. TOKYO, JAPAN TOM SACHS MADE IN USA' (on the reverse)
cast silicon bronze and paint
120 x 80 x 60 in. (304.8 x 203.2 x 152.4 cm.)
Executed in 2008. This work is number three from an edition of five.
Sperone Westwater, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2008
New York, Lever House, Tom Sachs, May-September 2008 (another example exhibited).
Aspen, Baldwin Gallery, Tom Sachs, July-September 2008 (another example exhibited).
Paris, Thaddaeus Ropac, Tom Sachs, October-November 2008 (another example exhibited).
Aspen, Aspen Art Museum, Tom Sachs: Miffy Fountain and My Melody, February 2013-April 2014 (another example exhibited).

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Lot Essay

A quintessential iconoclast, Tom Sachs is notorious for his provocative reinterpretations of icons from consumer culture rendered in a signature DIY aesthetic. His penchant for remixing the familiar images and objects of daily life in a world dominated by corporate influence has established his reputation as a crucial provocateur amongst today’s most rebellious contemporary artists. In addition to his wildly acerbic wit, Sachs has a remarkably resourceful knack for craftsmanship. Whether reproducing iconic paintings by Albers and Mondrian in duct tape, or rendering a chainsaw from Chanel packaging, Sachs operates with a perverse alchemic rigor, imbuing his works with both humorous charm and uneasy subversion.
The artist came to critical acclaim in 1996 in the wake of his first major solo show, Cultural Prosthetics at New York's Morris-Healy Gallery. The exhibition presented works that fused fashion and violence in startling contrast, such as HG (Hermès Hand Grenade), 1995 and Tiffany Glock (Model 19), 1995. These sculptural models of mortal weaponry, roughly hewn from the packaging of luxury fashion brands, would come to define the slightly sinister playfulness at the heart of the artist’s oeuvre. Another important—and extremely controversial—exhibition that followed Cultural Prosthetics was Haute Bricolage, held in 1999 at Mary Boone Gallery, where the artist showed anarchic, Frankenstein-like assemblages of various found objects and industrial materials that included fully functional objects, such as space age boomboxes and a DJ booth inexplicably crowned with an umbrella. In addition to these whimsical sculptures, another more mischievous installation was on display: Ace Boone Coon, 1999, a cabinet stocked with the artist’s homemade handguns. An Alvar Aalto glass vase filled with live bullets on was installed nearby on the reception desk, where visitors to the exhibition were invited to take home the ammo in orange air-sickness bags designed to look like Hermés shopping bags.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given the puckishness and implied carnage of the artist’s work in general, one of the most frequently recurring motifs of Sachs’s output is the instantly recognizable and totally innocuous Hello Kitty character. In 2014, at an artist’s talk in Austin, Texas organized by The Contemporary Austin, Sachs explained the importance of Hello Kitty as it relates to his practice: "Why Hello Kitty? You always have meaning and stuff in your sculpture and there’s so much violence and history… I choose Hello Kitty because she means nothing. She’s kind of like a real Zen object. She doesn’t have a TV show, she only exists as plastic crap. She’s pure license, and in this time of consumerism there’s nothing like that. Everything really tries to mean something.” Notwithstanding the purity and innocence that the Japanese company, Sanrio must have intended when designing the Hello Kitty character, Sachs has found ways to subvert the ubiquitous image, creating his own symbol of mindless, subtly nihilistic consumerism. For instance, in 1994, Sachs created the diorama, Hello Kitty Nativity Scene as part of an auction sponsored by Barney's department store in New York City, where it was displayed alongside numerous other artworks in the department store’s front window. The diorama depicted a traditional nativity scene, but replaced the traditional figures with popular cartoons. The Three Kings were transformed into effigies of Bart Simpson, while the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus were replaced with Hello Kitty dolls.
The present work, My Melody, 2007 is one of the artist’s first monumental works in bronze. Another example from the edition was exhibited at New York’s historic Lever House as part of the exhibition, Bronze Collection in 2008. In addition to My Melody, another character from the Sanrio universe, Sachs displayed two additional monumental bronzes depicting Hello Kitty and the rabbit, Miffy, a similarly inoffensive character created by Dutch artist Dick Bruna in 1955, which also functioned as outdoor fountains. Using the original toys as models, Sachs and his assistants constructed giant versions using sheets of lightweight foamcore and glue guns, which were then cast in bronze and painted white. By rendering these miniature baubles of consumer culture on a massive scale, and using the fine material of bronze, Sachs re-contextualizes his avatars in such a way as to invite the viewer’s reflection and scrutiny. As the artist explains, “Most things are engineered to resist history. If my work is anything, it is against that theory. I try to show flaws because flaws are human. These details on how things are made show the politics behind how we consume our products... It is sculpture, because it’s talked about, sold, and shown as such. But to me it’s really bricolage, which is the French term for do-it-yourself repair. Bricolage comes from a culture that repairs rather than replaces–American culture just replaces.” (T. Sachs, Press Release for Tom Sachs: Bronze Collection, 2008).

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