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Jeff Koons is widely regarded as one of the most important, influential, popular, and controversial artists of the postwar era. Throughout his career, he has pioneered new approaches to the readymade, tested the boundaries between advanced art and mass culture, challenged the limits of industrial fabrication, and transformed the relationship of artists to the cult of celebrity and the global market. Yet despite these achievements, Koons has never been the subject of a retrospective surveying the full scope of his career. Comprising almost 150 objects dating from 1978 to the present, this exhibition will be the most comprehensive ever devoted to the artist’s groundbreaking oeuvre. By reconstituting all of his most iconic works and significant series in a chronological narrative, the retrospective will allow visitors to understand Koons’s remarkably diverse output as a multifaceted whole.
This exhibition will be the artist’s first major museum presentation in New York, and the first to fill nearly the entirety of the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building with a single artist’s work. It will also be the final exhibition to take place there before the Museum opens its new building in the Meatpacking District in 2015.
Jeff Koons: A Retrospective is organized by Scott Rothkopf, Nancy and Steve Crown Family Curator and Associate Director of Programs.
The exhibition travels to the Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (November 26, 2014–April 27, 2015) and to the Guggenheim Bilbao (June 5–September 27, 2015).
Leadership support for this exhibition is provided by
The exhibition is sponsored by
Significant support is provided by Neil G. Bluhm; Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation, Inc.; Susan and John Hess; Cari and Michael J. Sacks; and the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Major support is provided by Anne Cox Chambers, Nancy C. and A. Steven Crown, Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, Lise and Michael Evans, Anne Dias Griffin and Kenneth Griffin, Dakis Joannou, Allison and Warren Kanders, Amy and John Phelan, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, and David Zwirner Gallery.
Generous support is provided by The Broad Art Foundation; Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy; Wendy Fisher; Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill; Antonio Homem, Sonnabend Gallery; Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins; Liz and Eric Lefkofsky; Linda and Harry Macklowe; the Mugrabi Collection; Brooke and Daniel Neidich; Almine Rech Gallery; David Teiger; and Fern and Lenard Tessler.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Opening Dinner sponsored by
The Popeye series is named after the cartoon sailor featured in some of its works, yet its true subject may be the artist’s strategic reexamination of the readymade. This device had played a central role in Koons’s earlier bronze and steel casts of consumer products. In this series, rather than transforming a found object into a sculpture by conspicuously translating it from one material into another, he concealed this metamorphosis. The hyperreal cast-aluminum and spray-painted pool toys are stunning feats of artifice, exhibiting minutely rendered puckers along their seams. In some sculptures, Koons pairs these doppelgangers with actual mass-produced objects, such as trashcans and chairs. This contrast challenges and heightens the illusionism of Koons’s casts and raises complex questions about the nature of representation—something he also explores in the related paintings.
Jeff Koons is widely regarded as one of the most important, influential, popular, and controversial artists of the postwar era. In this Whitney Stories video, Koons reflects upon the significance of having his first retrospective at the Whitney Museum at age 59, and discusses the manifesto that drives his work.
The Whitney’s head preparator looks back on the challenges of installing Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, and discusses features of the new building that promise to ease the load on art handlers.
Examining the breadth and depth of thirty-five years of work by Jeff Koons (b. 1955), one of the most influential and controversial artists of the 20th century, this highly anticipated volume features all of his most famous pieces. Also included are preparatory sketches and plans for sculptures and paintings as well as installation photographs that shed light on Koons’s artistic process and trace the development of his work throughout his landmark career.
The excerpt available here features an introductory essay by curator Scott Rothkopf. Additional contributors to the catalogue are: Antonio Damasio, Jeffrey Deitch, Isabelle Graw, Achim Hochdörfer, Michelle Kuo, Rachel Kushner, Pamela M. Lee, and Alexander Nagel.
“He’s a marvelous artist . . . a master with formidable aesthetic intelligence and a very great deal of nerve.”
—The New Yorker (audio slide show)
“Lucid, challenging, brilliantly installed”
—The New York Times
“The perfect final show for the Whitney’s building.”
—New York Magazine
“The Whitney show makes a strong case for the rigor and, often, the beauty of Koons’s art, justifying the avidity of the collectors for whom his works are coveted trophies.”
—The New Yorker
“At 59, Mr. Koons may be one of the most famous living artists around—and the most expensive at auction. . . . But this will be the first time American audiences will see the sweep of his more than three-decade career in one gulp, 1978 to the present.”
—The New York Times
“Jeff Koons, Man of the Hour”
By the Numbers: The Facts and Figures Behind Jeff Koons’s Massive, Awe-Inspiring Show at the Whitney
Video: “Jeff Koons’ Philosophy of Perfection”
“If you’ve been having trouble sleeping lately, it’s probably due to the unquenchable feeling of excitement and anticipation roiling the city—if not the world—in the lead up to the Whitney Museum’s Jeff Koons: A Retrospective.”
“What Inspires Me Is Feeling” by Jeff Koons
—Art in America
“How to Make a Koons”