A few years ago I was recommended ‘The Painted Word’ by Tom Wolfe. It grabbed my attention right from the start, especially this bit in the opening pages:

In short: frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can’t see a painting.

Wolfe was arguing that art has evolved so far beyond how we normally perceive and interact with the world that we need a map to find our way inside – a cheat sheet or ‘theory’ that helps us connect with the objects created by another.

And when that theory gets mixed in with the thoughts formed by a lifetime of experiences? That’s what builds our own perspective of another’s work. And this perspective is unique – no one else will perceive that work exactly the same as you. Sure, your viewpoint may have a lot of overlap with others, but it’ll be coloured by your own unique experiences; the sort of nuances that bubble up from your personal journey through the cosmos.

In 2015, the journeys of Sachs and Wolfe overlapped in a conversation hosted by The New York Academy of Art. It was billed as ‘Tom vs. Tom’ and it’s a great one. Worth checking out.


If you’re just tuning in, welcome. You’re reading Thank God It’s Monday – TGIM – a weekly series were we smush together a bit of Sachs’ theory with our own experiences. You can think of these as the view of Sachs’ world, as seen from here.

A photo of a Tom Sachs sitting with Tom Wolfe.

Photo: New York Academy of Art

Originally written for the Sachsian Syndicate.

Previously: TGIM 27 - …That takes some adjustment – paying freight costs to ship digital files around the place. We are so accustomed to sending digital content across the Internet for almost nothing..


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