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Jeff Koons

1955 York, United States

1 Works exhibited

Current location

New York

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  • About the Artist

One of today’s most controversial working artists, Jeff Koons has had a decidedly unique career that runs counter to many of the art historical norms; despite his playful, often hyperbolic, artistic style, Koons has undertaken a number of shockingly conventional jobs in his life, such as working as a commodities broker on Wall Street, before fully devoting himself to art. Born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1955, Koons studied both at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduating with a BFA in 1977, he moved to New York City where he worked in membership services at the Museum of Modern Art. While at MoMA, he began working on his signature, often garish and banal, visual style. Koons utilized everything from inflatable toys to domestic appliances.

Koons also developed an artistic persona that was simultaneously blithe and over-the-top, a self-identity that has increasingly become associated with, and as part of, his work. The artist has repeatedly asserted that his work should be taken at face value and that there is no hidden meaning or interpretive content; this, in conjunction with his use of both kitsch and banal materials and motifs, has greatly contributed to the polarizing nature of his career within the art world. Most recently, Koons became the centre of controversy after he offered the sculpture Bouquet of Tulips, to the city of Paris to memorialize the victims of a terrorist attack. The sculpture has yet to be installed, as there has been an extreme backlash from all sides over its proposed location in Tokyo Square, and, further, many decry its installation at all.

Koons’s most distinguishable design is that of a balloon dog, which he has recreated in several iterations. These balloon dogs are often massive in scale, made of metal, and given a mirror-like finish. His Balloon Dog (Orange), one of five versions in various colours, holds the highest auction record for a living artist, selling for $58.4 million in 2013. Koons continues to live and work in New York City, where he has undertaken public commissions (such as Seated Ballerina, 2017, in Rockefeller Center), and his work is held in several collections, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Jeff Koons plays with ideas of taste, pleasure, celebrity, and commerce. “I believe in advertisement and media completely,” he says. “My art and my personal life are based in it.” Working with seductive commercial materials (such as the high chromium stainless steel of his “Balloon Dog” sculptures or his vinyl “Inflatables”), shifts of scale, and an elaborate studio system involving many technicians, Koons turns banal objects into high art icons. His paintings and sculptures borrow widely from art-historical techniques and styles; although often seen as ironic or tongue-in-cheek, Koons insists his practice is earnest and optimistic. “I’ve always loved Surrealism and Dada and Pop, so I just follow my interests and focus on them,” he says. “When you do that, things become very metaphysical.” The “Banality” series that brought him fame in the 1980s included pseudo-Baroque sculptures of subjects like Michael Jackson with his pet ape, while his monumental topiaries, like the floral Puppy (1992), reference 17th-century French garden design.

Works by Jeff Koons

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2017

13.97 x 29.21 x 20.96 cm

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