Monday, 21 December 2009

Jeff Koons Rules

Jeff Koons has been one of Rost’s (RWC) favourite artists for a while now. He is an American Pop artist best known for his giant reproductions of banal objects such as balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces.

The RWC crew are fans for a couple of reasons…

  1. In 1991, he married Italian-born pornography 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, photographs, and sculptures portrayed the couple in explicit sexual positions and created even more controversy.
  1. Critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons. Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others dismiss his work as kitsch: crass and based on cynical self-merchandising.

Koons studied painting at art school and after college, he worked as a Wall Street commodities broker while 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. It was staffed with over 30 assistants, each assigned to a different aspect of producing his work—in a similar mode as Andy Warhol's Factory only with less drugs and drop-outs.

Koons' work has sold for huge amounts of cash. In 2001, one of his three Michael Jackson and Bubbles porcelain sculptures sold for $5.6 million. On November 14, 2007, a magenta Hanging Heart, one of five in different colors, sold at Sotheby's New York for $23.6 million becoming, at the time, the most expensive piece by a living artist ever auctioned.

A couple years back the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) announced plans to build a Jeff Koons sculpture called "Train": a 70-foot tall replica of a 1943 Baldwin hanging from a 161-foot-tall construction crane. The train would sound its horn, spin its wheels and puff smoke from its smokestack at regular intervals throughout the day. Estimated to require about $25 million to get built, "Train" will be one of the most expensive works ever commissioned by a museum. Due to the recession the completion date has been pushed back from 2012 to 2014. The RWC crew are not convinced it will get built, but we can live and hope.

Like Takashi Murakami, Koons likes to explore and blur the distinction between low, commercial aesthetics and high art. In 2006 Koons collabed with NYC skate giants Supreme and created a series of 3 limited edition skateboard graphics entitled ‘Monkey Train’.

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