Jeff Koons

From Academic Kids

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Jeff Koons is famous for making expensive porcelain copies of everyday kitsch objects.

Jeff Koons (born January 21, 1955 in York, Pennsylvania) is an American contemporary artist and sculptor. He worked as a Wall Street commodities broker before becoming famous as an artist in the 1980s.

As the self-proclaimed "most written-about artist in the world," Jeff Koons has attained a "star" pop status rivaling his precursor Andy Warhol. However, the Koons phenomenon -- Koons himself, his objects, and the discursive reception that surrounds it all -- is inherently paradoxical. Koons is made out to be a critical commentator in the tradition of the Dadaists and a controversial figure in the footsteps of the avant-garde, yet his art-historical glory resides in the perception that he is "flat" -- no depth, all surface. This meaninglessness and banality, above all, is his contribution to art.

His work is considered by many to exude a great amount of joy, even as it both appropriates and problematizes pleasurable consumerism. Koons art has been widely plagiarized in the People's Republic of China where consumers continue buying his work despite the threat of lengthy jail terms for possession of these controversial reproductions.

Critics have often been scathing in discussing his work. His "Made In Heaven" exhibition featured photographs and sculptures of Koons having intercourse with his wife, the Italian porn star and politician Cicciolina. Mark Stevens of The New Republic wrote that he was a "decadent artist [because he] lacks the imaginative will to do more than trivialize and italicise his themes and the tradition in which he works... He is another of those who serve the tacky rich." Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times wrote it was "one last, pathetic gasp of the sort of self-promoting hype and sensationalism that characterized the worst of the" 1980s. "Artificial," "cheap," and "unabashedly cynical," were Kimmelman's labels.

In 1992, Koons was commissioned to create a piece for an art exhibition in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The result was Puppy, a 13-meter (43 foot) tall topiary sculpture of a Scottish Terrier puppy executed in a variety of flowers on a steel substructure. In 1995 the sculpture was dismantled and reerected in Sydney Harbor 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. Before the dedication of the museum in a trio disguised as gardeners attempted to plant explosive-filled flowerpots near the sculpture [1] (http://www.artnet.com/magazine_pre2000/news/robinson/robinson10-14-97.asp). Bilbao police foiled the scheme. Since its installation, Puppy has become a familiar icon for the city of Bilbao. In the summer of 2000 it travelled to New York City for a temporary exhibition at Rockefeller Center.

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

Further reading

  • The Jeff Koons Handbook (1993) by Jeff Koons ("the first monograph and primary sourcebook"), ISBN 0847816966.
  • Michael Kimmelman. "Jeff Koons." The New York Times. November 29, 1991.
  • Mark Stevens. "Adventures in the Skin Trade." The New Republic. January 20, 1992.
  • Judd Tully. "Jeff Koons's Raw Talent: In New York, an X-rated Exhibition." The Washington Post. December 15, 1991.
  • Coupland, Douglas (2001). "Jeff Koons: Getting It (http://www.eyestorm.com/feature/ED2n_article.asp?article_id=202)." Eyestorm (dealer newsletter).

External links

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