Kitty Fountain by Tom Sachs
As part of Berlin Art Week, PalaisPopulaire will inaugurate a new temporary outdoor sculpture on its forecourt on September 15, 2021. Tom Sachs’ three-meter-high Kitty Fountain, cast in bronze, was created in 2008 and was originally part of the monumental sculpture ensemble The Codependent Fountain Tableau. This group of fountain sculptures was installed in the Noguchi Gardens of New York’s Lever House in 2008 and shown in the same year in an exhibition on Place du Trocadéro overlooking the Eiffel Tower in Paris. For the ensemble, Tom Sachs brought together the iconic children’s characters “Hello Kitty” and “My Melody,” both launched by the Japanese company Sanrio in 1974, with “Miffy,” a small rabbit designed by Dutch author and graphic designer Dick Bruna in 1955. All three characters are mass marketed as merchandising products and are characterized by strong graphic stylization, running counter to the idea of a detailed, classical sculpture. Tom Sachs has often referred to the Japanese kitten figure “Kitty” as a “merchandising icon.” Perhaps among other things because its design with a missing mouth enables the viewer’s emotions to be projected onto it. This empty space is of particular interest to the artist.
For Kitty Fountain, Sachs worked using the original toys and merchandise. He and his assistants first made an enlarged version from white foam sheets assembled using hot glue and then cut into shape. This prototype was subsequently cast in bronze and elaborately painted white to imitate the feel of the foam surface as closely as possible. Sachs created a kind of “Super-Kitty” out of Kitty Fountain: something concocted yet completely slick, a naïve, cheerful toy that at the same time questions the radically commercialized world.