TOM SACHS GROWS OLD
I first met Tom Sachs in 1994, during a lecture I was giving in the penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Avenue. I had just received, gratis (aka "comped"), the revised edition of Janson's History of Art and had laid the heavy tome on a chair in the first row, right in front of me. Halfway through my lecture I noticed what appeared to be a small child inch over to the chair and lift my large book, depositing it quickly under his overcoat.
I let the urchin move towards the elevator, then leaped around my lectern, midtalk, and grabbed the child by the scruff of his collar.
"Hi," the thief grinned, "my name is Tom Sachs and I want this book for my girlfriend."
"You’re the idiot doing the Christmas installation at Barney's," I replied, "I guess you can keep the book."
Rather than strangling immaturity in the cradle, I had unwittingly commenced a brilliant career of appropriated juvenilia culminating this week in Sachs' bricolage “Space Program: Mars” installation for Creative Time at the Park Avenue Armory (which never seems to be actually involved in preparing the army for all the foreign wars we have had recently), artist interviews by appointment only.
Now, the most interesting thing about Tom Sachs is that he is now an old man. Don't believe me? Check out Creative Time's press pics of the ex-runt: Tom has adorned himself like a hipster rabbi, complete with gray sideburns and cheek fuzz. You say 46 ain't old? Tell it to Peter Pan, much less an aged Sachs long past the era when he (allegedly) commandeered the SoHo studio loft above raccoon-eyed art goddess Hope Atherton's work space in a pubescent effort to seduce her by knocking on her door every five minutes to borrow some glue.
Tommy loves to borrow, it's his "practice." It's no accident that my 1990s running buddy David Bowie long ago recorded an album called Life on Mars, when Tom Sachs was 10. Thirty-six years later, but still on the cusp of puberty, Sachs thinks that the art lemmings out there can't remember Mars, much less Bowie. Yet, an old fella like me remembers Louise Nevelson (even met her in 1969). When Tom Sachs looks in the mirror, Nevelson looks back, and you know what? Their work is the same!
Tom Sachs, “Space Program: Mars,” May 16-June 17, 2012, Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10065.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).