Kitsch, velvet painting, provocative art


Jeff Koons





Jeff Koons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jeff Koons (born January 21, 1955) is an American artist whose work incorporates kitsch imagery using painting, sculpture, and other forms, often in large scale.

Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania; as a teenager he revered Salvador Dalí, to the extent of visiting him at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. Koons attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Maryland Institute College of Art, and studied painting. After college he worked as a Wall Street commodities broker, whilst establishing himself as an artist. He gained recognition in the 1980s, and subsequently set up a factory-like studio in a SoHo loft on the corner of Houston and Broadway in New York. This had over 30 staff, each assigned to a different aspect of producing his work—in a similar mode to both Andy Warhol's Factory, Damien Hirst, and many Renaissance artists.

Rabbit in Naples, Italy, 2003Koons' early work was in the form of conceptual sculpture, one of the best-known being Three Ball 50/50 Tank, 1985, consisting of three basket balls floating in distilled water, which half-fills a glass tank.

Jeff Koons carefully cultivated his public persona by employing an image consultant— something that at the time was unheard of for a contemporary artist. As an artwork in their own right Koons placed full page advertisements in the main international art magazine featuring photographs, taken by Matt Chedgey, of himself surrounded by the trappings of success. During personal appearances and interviews Koons began to refer to himself in the third person.

Koons then moved on to "Statuary", the large stainless-steel blowups of toys, and then a series "Banality", which culminated in 1988 with Michael Jackson and Bubbles—stated to be the world's largest ceramic—[citation needed] a life-size gold-leaf plated statue of the sitting singer cuddling Bubbles, his pet chimpanzee. Three years later it sold at Sotheby's New York for $5.6 million and is now in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The statue was included in a retrospective survey at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo (2004) which traveled to the Helsinki City Art Museum (2005). It was also featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2008) in his second retrospective survey there. In November (2007) Koons became the most expensive living artist when his giant stainless-steel Hanging Heart sold at Sotheby's New York for $23.6 million, only to be topped in July (2008) by his Balloon Flower (Magenta) selling for a record $25.7 million at Christie’s in London. Other large sculptures from his "Celebration" series were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2008).

In 1991 he married Hungarian-born naturalized-Italian porn star Cicciolina (Ilona Staller) who for five years (1987–1992) pursued an alternate career as a member of the Italian parliament. His "Made in Heaven"  series of paintings, photos and sculptures portrayed the couple in explicit sexual positions and created even more controversy than he had before.

In 1992 they had a son Ludwig. The marriage ended soon after. They agreed joint custody but Staller absconded from New York to Rome with the child, where mother and son remain, despite the award in 1998 of sole custody to Koons by the US courts, which had dissolved the marriage. In the aftermath he stated: "That experience really gave me a sense of responsibility to the public. I was losing my sense of humanity. Now, every day, I feel more and more responsible in the act of communicating and sharing and really trying to be as generous as possible as an artist."

In 2008 Staller filed suit against Koons for failing to pay child support.

During this time, he was commissioned in 1992, to create a piece for an art exhibition in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The result was Puppy, a forty-three foot (12.4 m) tall topiary sculpture of a West Highland White Terrier puppy executed in a variety of flowers on a steel substructure. In 1995 the sculpture was dismantled and re-erected at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Sydney Harbour on a new, more permanent, stainless steel armature with an internal irrigation system.

In 1997 the piece was purchased by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and installed on the terrace outside the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. Before the dedication at the museum, a trio disguised as gardeners attempted to plant explosive-filled flowerpots near the sculpture , but were foiled by Bilbao police. Since its installation, Puppy has become an icon for the city of Bilbao. In the summer of 2000 it travelled to New York City for a temporary exhibition at Rockefeller Center.

Media mogul Peter Brant and his wife, model Stephanie Seymour, have an exact Jeff Koons duplicate of the Bilbao statue on the grounds of their Connecticut estate.

In 1999 he commissioned a song about himself, on Momus' album Stars Forever.

In 2001 he concentrated on painting in a series "Easyfun-Ethereal", a collage approach incorporating bikinis (with the bodies wearing them removed), food and landscape—painted under his supervision by assistants.

In 2006 he appeared on Artstar, an unscripted television series set in the New York art world.

On November 14, 2007 his art piece "Hanging Heart" sold at Sotheby's auction house for $23.6 million becoming, at the time, the most expensive piece by a living artist ever auctioned. It was bought by the Gagosian Gallery which also purchased another Koons sculpture entitled "Diamond (Blue)" for $11.8 million from Christie's auction house on Tuesday, November 13, 2007.

He rendered a drawing similar to his famous "Tulip Balloons" for placement on the front page of the Internet search engine Google. The drawing greeted all who visited Google's main page on April 30, 2008 and May 1, 2008 (April 30 being Queen's Day in the Netherlands).

A Jeff Koons sculpture resembling a balloon model has sold for a record £12.9m at Christie's in London.




Balloon Flower


Balloon Dog


Pink Panther




Balloon Dog


Balloon Dog (Blue)




Bath towel


Girl with Dolphin and Monkey




Inflatable Plastic Elephant




Bike Rack






Balloon flower - Magenta


Diamond - Blue


Hanging heart


Michael Jackson and Bubbles


Michael Jackson and Bubbles


Winter Bears


Bourgeois Bust - Jeff and Ilona


Ushering in Banality

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