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Jeff Koons: A Retrospective

June 27–Oct 19, 2014

Jeff Koons, Tulips, 1995–98. Oil on canvas; 111 3⁄8 x 131 in. (282.9 x 332.7cm). Private collection. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Tulips, 1995–98. Oil on canvas; 111 3⁄8 × 131 in. (282.9 × 332.7cm). Private collection. © Jeff Koons

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

Works from the Retrospective
Select a series

Popeye

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, Elvis, 2003. Oil on canvas; 108 × 93 in. (274.3 × 236.2 cm). Stefan T. Edlis Collection © Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons, Lobster, 2003. Polychromed aluminum and coated steel chain; 57 7⁄8 x 37 × 17 1⁄8 in. (147 × 94 × 43.5 cm). Collection of the artist. © Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons, Olive Oyl, 2003. Oil on canvas; 108 × 84 in. (274.3 × 213.4 cm). Private collection. © Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons, Seal Walrus (Trashcans), 2003. Polychromed aluminum and galvanized steel; 67 × 30 × 36 in. (170.2 × 76.2 × 91.4 cm). Collection of the artist. © Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons, Seal Walrus (Chairs), 2003–09. Polychromed aluminum and resin; 67 × 30 × 36 in. (170.2 × 76.2 × 91.4 cm). Murderme. © Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons, Popeye, 2009–12. Granite and live flowering plants; 78 × 52 3⁄8 x 28 3⁄8 in. (198.1 × 132.9 × 72.1 cm). Bill Bell Collection. © Jeff Koons

Installation Photography

Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17-October 19, 2014). Jeff Koons, Kiepenkerl, 1987. © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17-October 19, 2014). Jeff Koons, Kiepenkerl, 1987. © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17-October 19, 2014). Jeff Koons, Gazing Ball (Belvedere Torso), 2013. © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17-October 19, 2014). Jeff Koons, Gazing Ball (Belvedere Torso), 2013; Gazing Ball (Farnese Hercules), 2013. © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27–October 19, 2014). © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27-October 19, 2014). © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27-October 19, 2014). Jeff Koons: Inflatable Flowers (Four Tall Purple with Plastic Figures). © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27-October 19, 2014). © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27-October 19, 2014). © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27-October 19, 2014). From left to right: Jeff Koons, One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J 241 Series), 1985; Snorkel (Shotgun), 1985. ©Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27-October 19, 2014). From left to right: Jeff Koons, Moses, 1985; One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J 241 Series), 1985; The Dynasty on 34th Street, 1985. © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
Installation view of Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 17-October 19, 2014). From left to right: Jeff Koons, New Hoover Convertibles Green, Red, Brown, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon Displaced Doubledecker, 1981-1987; One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J 241 Series), 1985; Lifeboat, 1985. © Jeff Koons. Photograph by Ronald Amstutz
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Exhibition Catalogue

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.

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Jeff Koons: A Retrospective
Exhibition catalogue
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Jeff Koons Service Plate: Play-Doh
Limited-edition porcelain plate
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Jeff Koons Platter: Ushering in Banality
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