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Tom Sachs’s Pointless Americana

Tom Sachs’s Pointless Americana

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Published by Joseph Nechvatal
Rev iew of Tom Sachs
American Handmade Paintings at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris
March 29th to May 3rd, 2014
Rev iew of Tom Sachs
American Handmade Paintings at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris
March 29th to May 3rd, 2014

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Published by: Joseph Nechvatal on Apr 22, 2014
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04/22/2014

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Tom Sachs
 American Handmade Paintings
 at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac ParisMarch 29th to May 3
rd
, 2014Published at Hyperallergic as
Tom Sachs’s Pointless Americanahttp://hyperallergic.com/121667/tom-sachss-pointless-americana/ 
As an American living in Europe, I often need to rethink and reassess my Americanvalues. The history of France has been distinguished by an elementary differentiation inthe relationship between the individual and society, with concepts of labor, leisure andwelfare different from the American ones. Of course, pushed by the economy of theglobal market, France is becoming increasingly similar to the American social model, atleast in the middle and upper social classes. It is this global market dynamic that
 
 propelled me, by curiosity and puzzlement, to re-evaluate Tom Sachs’s work through hisexhibition
 American Handmade Paintings
 in terms of the conceptual values aroundhandwork and high-technology that it calls to issue.With
 American Handmade Paintings
, Sachs’s seventh solo-exhibition in the Maraisgallery, he again brings to Paris an artistic project that reconstructs technological imagesand objects (here for example, a Goodwill logo, a McDonald’s sign in Chinese, a Scotchtape package and the American flag) in his signature gritty wood-shop fashion. Traces of handicraft are willingly left perceptible, engaging the work with issues of finish andlabor.
 
This style of production of
 American Handmade Paintings
 cannot be disentangled froman artesianal stance, posed cynically. Our time of digital fabrication and laser cutting plywood cannot be wished away. Note that I am sharing this text and digital images of his paintings online, hence far from the land of the uncomplicated hand.Sachs’s exhibition features his paintings (well, wall works produced through thetechniques of pyrography and marquetry) that often vampire early Jasper Johns, such ashis “Three Flags” (1958). Thus the show is a double operation aimed against high-techauthenticity and legendary art; one where pixie-dusted Pop Art American iconographyassumes the pose of a metamorphosed Folk Art. This strange strategy seems to deny the possibility of a technological elegance given off by the perfection of engineering, and asso, is merely agreeable craft. There may be a way of re-evaluating the hand and craft inart today, but it is not Sachs’s old-fashioned work-intensive way.The work’s forced evidence of the hand does not create an estrangement or distancing

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