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
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— 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