Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015

Installation view,
Tom Sachs: Boombox Retrospective 1999–2015,
The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2015.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.
Photograph by Genevieve Hanson.

AustinArt & Culture

Hit Rewind

Tom Sachs pumps up the volume with a celebration of the classic hip-hop boombox...

The boombox is one of the quintessential hip-hop accessories and crucial to the spread of the genre’s popularity: portable and loud, the stereos were perfect for groups of kids to gather around in parks and yards and share the freshest mixes. But damn, those things were big. I could barely have picked one up in the late ’80s, let alone hoisted it to my shoulder and attempted a fly swagger down the street while deafening myself in one ear.

The natural home of the boombox was, of course, New York City, where artist Tom Sachs grew up. He’s been making his own sculptural sound systems since 1999, and you can currently see 15 of them at The Contemporary Austin in Texas. The Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 includes examples of what we know as classic boombox setups, with a central tape deck unit and integrated speakers either side, but as Sachs’ ambition grew, so did the stereos. The fully-functional audio equipment and sound installations on show at the gallery’s Jones Centre will be activated by a series of playlists curated by musicians and friends of the artist; additional works such as the giant foam Miffy Fountain are being shown at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria. The boombox batteries are expected to run out on 19 April.

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Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Bodega, 2014.
Mixed media. 90 x 122 x 40 inches.
Installation view, The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2015.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.
Photograph by Genevieve Hanson.

Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Model One, 1999.
Mixed media. 32 x 41 x 14 inches.
Collection of Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip Aarons, New York.
Image courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.

Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Toyan’s, 2002.
Mixed media. 97 x 148 x 30 inches.
Installation view, The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2015.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.
Photograph by Genevieve Hanson.

Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Installation view,
Tom Sachs: Boombox Retrospective 1999–2015,
The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2015.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.
Photograph by Genevieve Hanson.

Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Phonkey, 2011.
Mixed media. 49 x 34 x 13 3/4 inches.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio and Gagosian Gallery.

Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Miffy Fountain, 2008.
Silicon bronze and paint (three-part catalyzed acrylic, white primer,
white base coat, “Xtreme” Flat Finish Klearkote).
108 x 102 x 102 inches.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.

Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Tower of Power, 2015.
Bronze. 144 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches.
Installation view,
The Contemporary Austin – Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria, Austin, 2015.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.
Photograph by Genevieve Hanson.

Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Guru’s Yardstyle, 1999.
Mixed media. 53 x 24 x 25 inches.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio.

Tom Sachs — Boombox Retrospective 1999-2015 at The Contemporary Austin, Texas

Tom Sachs, Euronor, 2012.
Mixed media. 144 x 60 x 58 inches.
Courtesy Tom Sachs Studio and Gagosian Gallery.

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