Tom Sachs and his take on Le Corbusier

The American artist's installation manages to be both sophisticated and satirical.
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Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

1 / 6 Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

2 / 6 Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

3 / 6 Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

4 / 6 Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

5 / 6 Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy

6 / 6 Tom Sachs (2010), Venice Biennale, Italy


Tom Sachs is an American artist known for sculptures that recreate Modern icons in a manner that is simultaneously very crude and very sophisticated. His installation at the Venice Biennale includes a number of elements, each of which is a different satirical take on Corbusian designs. These include McBusier, a piece that consists of two foamcore models, one of Villa Savoye and the other of a McDonalds, each watched by security cameras and connected, at least conceptually, by a road – the instigating factor for both buildings.

Models and drawings also represent the Unité d’Habitation, a massive housing block that Corbusier designed as a universal housing solution (but of which only one was completed, in Marseille) as well as the Radiant City, a plan for high-rise towers to house thousands of people that was never realized. The drawings explicitly link the projects to the brutal realities of twentieth-century life: the drawing of the Unité includes an arrow labelled ‘13 Deaths’ and the Radiant City drawing portrays the moment when Le Corbusier presented the project as a defence against German aerial attack.

The installation is obviously and sharply sardonic, implicitly suggesting that the spread of Corbusian design (if not precisely the buildings designed by Le Corbusier himself) have granted us a world that is largely soulless and violent. At the same time, the number of pieces and their method of their creation, which is quite clearly and painstakingly by hand, make it clear that the artist, at least, continues to obsess over these buildings, and that they might still present us with new ideas.

 

Sara Goldsmith
Project Editor, Architecture & Design, Phaidon


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