TOM SACHS (B. 1966)
TOM SACHS (B. 1966)
TOM SACHS (B. 1966)
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TOM SACHS (B. 1966)
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TOM SACHS (B. 1966)

Tiffany Value Meal

Details
TOM SACHS (B. 1966)
Tiffany Value Meal
signed and dated 'Tom Sachs 1998' (on the underside of the tray)
installation—ink on Tiffany & Co. paper bag construction, in 87 parts
14 x 17 3⁄8 x 12 1⁄8 in. (35.6 x 44.1 x 30.8 cm.)
Executed in 1998.
Provenance
Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Private collection, Chicago
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, New York, 15 November 2006, lot 506
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Literature
Tom Sachs, exh. cat., Milan, Fondazione Prada, 2006, n.p., fig. 75 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Paris, Thaddaeus Ropac, Tom Sachs: Creativity Is The Enemy, January-February 1999.

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Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Tom Sachs is one of art’s most astute cultural commentators, creating works from unexpected sources that encourage us to rethink our relationship to pop culture, commercialism, and sculpture altogether. Nowhere are these interventions more apparent than in Tiffany Value Meal, a biting and thought-provoking construction that combines a myriad of cultural reference points. A mixture of wonder and critique, like Andy Warhol’s best work, defines Sachs’s ongoing social inquiry, which always generously gives the viewer the opportunity to decide where they stand on the axis of comedy and seriousness.

As Sachs has theorized, “The thing that we are always looking for in art is authenticity. That’s the holy grail in all art, whether it’s painting, sculpture, or commercial art. We are always trying to deliver authenticity” (T. Sachs in J.C. Jay, “For Tom Sachs, Money is No Object,” 032c, September 15, 2021). Tiffany Value Meal is the height of that authenticity. It becomes a mirror to society and yet another instance of Sachs’s technical skill as an artist and commitment to craft, much like the heritage brands, like Tiffany and Co., that he incorporates into his work.

Tiffany Value Meal was included in the career-defining 2006 exhibition Tom Sachs, curated by the late Germano Celant, at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, and for good reason. Sachs presents a true-to-size McDonald’s value meal, so called because it is one of the cheapest options on the menu, but among the ubiquitous symbols of the global fast-food chain is the equally recognizable Tiffany and Co. logo. Most noticeably, the yellows and reds of the iconic Golden Arches have been replaced with Tiffany blue, a delicate, but enduring, color that has come to represent luxury and quality. The two brands, which occupy vastly different price points, even though they might be in physical proximity to each other at times, are thus leveled, reminding us that consumer culture moves fluidly among geographies and sociopolitical strata. This is exemplary of Sachs’s democratizing impulse. His interest in accessibility and fashion has led to several noted collaborations with a variety of brands and cultural icons, most notably Nike, with whom he has an ongoing partnership.

Tiffany Value Meal is perhaps the most affecting and bold of Sachs’s re-mixing of brands and logos, which has characterized his career from the outset. It is a distillation of a number of adventurous leaps into necessary questions about consumerism and advertising. In 1994, while working at Barneys in New York, 28-year-old Sachs was invited to create one of the luxury department store’s iconic Christmas window displays. He created a Nativity scene featuring Hello Kitty as Christ, Madonna as the Virgin Mary, Bart Simpson as each of the three Kings, and a McDonald’s label stamped upon the holy stable. In 1996, Sachs hand customized a reissued Hermès Kelly bag with the NASA logo, which has become on ongoing motif for his practice and a metaphor for his penchant for innovation. Sachs makes everything available to himself as a source of inspiration and recombination, suggesting that culture itself is not a source of hierarchies, but rather of limitless possibilities.

Speaking of Tiffany Value Meal, Sachs writes, “Not a happy meal, but a VALUE meal” (T. Sachs, online, February 25, 2022). He wryly suggests here that the point of a McDonald’s value meal is not happiness and contentment, but rather something affordable and quick. Sachs’s work is anything but quick, but he makes no judgments and instead empowers the viewer to form an interpretation. Could we condemn fast food, or by the same token, the fashion industry? Could we likewise see Tiffany Value Meal as a work of empathy that points to the complex politics of wealth and access? Sachs’s work is always all of the above, and therein lies its power.

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