When Tom Sachs first unveiled Hello Kitty Nativity, his polarizing Christmas window decoration for Barneys New York in 1994, it was clear that here was an artist who had a firm handle on the psychology of consumerism: he calmly replaced the Virgin Mary with the (equally) iconic Hello Kitty doll and, for good measure, dressed it up in Chanel and Nike.
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In the ensuing years, Tom Sachs has demonstrated, time and again, this deft touch for mixing irony with a great deal of chutzpah in subverting every day popular culture. This week, Sachs shows new works in New York that should cement this reputation. Commissioned by the Lever House Art Collection, the Bronze Collection revives Sach’s love affair with Hello Kitty while indulging an apparently ongoing disregard for the Virgin Mary; his 12-piece cast-bronze ensemble displaces Damian Hirst’s Virgin Mother statue.
The pieces are huge. In the 53rd Street plaza loom a 21-foot Hello Kitty, a nine-foot Crying Miffy fountain (the Dutch white rabbit version of Sanrio’s mascot) and a seven-foot Crying Hello Kitty fountain. In the Lever House lobby, Sachs has planted a series of towers (Noguchi-inspired, he says) made of six to nine-feet high Duralast, Interstate, Trojan and Diehard batteries. There is even a bronze dumpster which serves as (another) ironic observation of the almost symbiotic relationship between garbage and even the slickest of built environments.
After New York, the Bronze Collection travels to Aspen in July and then to Paris in October, so there’s really no excuse for not saying hello to Kitty. Click here to read our interview with Tom Sachs.