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.
Opening Dinner sponsored by
Expanding on the lowbrow subjects of Statuary, Koons’s next series, Banality, ventured further into the realm of kitsch. Unlike his earlier sculptures based on readymade sources, those in Banality are mash-ups of stuffed animals, gift shop figurines, and images taken from magazines, product packaging, films, and even Leonardo da Vinci. Nothing was too corny, too cloying, or too cute. Working with traditional German and Italian craftsmen who made decorative and religious objects, Koons enlarged his subjects and rendered them in gilt porcelain and polychromed wood, materials more associated with housewares and tchotchkes than contemporary art. As with his previous series, he conceived of Banality as an elaborate allegory, this one aimed at freeing us to embrace without embarrassment our childhood affection for toys or the trinkets lining our grandparents’ shelves.
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”