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JEFF KOONS: A RETROSPECTIVE

Jeff Koons, Elephant, 2003. Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating; 36 1⁄2 × 29 × 19 in. (92.7 × 73.7 × 48.3 cm). Private collection. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Elephant, 2003. Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating; 36 1⁄2 × 29 × 19 in. (92.7 × 73.7 × 48.3 cm). Private collection. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons loved to draw as a kid. He knew that he wanted to be an artist by the time he was five years old. For the past thirty-five years, Koons has made sculptures and paintings that comment on the world we live in and challenge our ideas about what art can be.

Koons experiments with ordinary objects including inflatable toys, basketballs, and vacuum cleaners. He also works with experts to transform everyday objects into large-scale sculptures in bronze, aluminum, or stainless steel, pushing the limits of what can be done with these materials.

Come see Koons’s awesome sculptures and paintings in Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, the artist’s first major museum exhibition in New York City.

HERE’S A SNEAK PEEK. . .

Jeff Koons, Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), 1979. Vinyl and mirrors; 32 × 25 × 19 in. (81.3 × 63.5 × 48.3 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © Jeff Koons

Born in York, Pennsylvania in 1955, Jeff Koons studied art at Maryland Institute and College of Art and at the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to New York City in 1976. Koons’s first job in New York was at the Museum of Modern Art selling memberships. Then he worked on Wall Street to earn money to help pay for the cost of making his artwork.While he was working at the Museum of Modern Art, Koons began to look at the art on view—especially the work of Marcel Duchamp, (1887-1968) who invented the readymade just over 100 years ago. Duchamp chose ordinary, manmade objects, altered them by combining them or signing them, and declared that they were art. This act changed people’s ideas about what a work of art could be. Koons started experimenting with readymades in the late 1970s, making sculpture with store-bought objects such as these blow-up toys. He arranged the inflatable flowers and rabbits on shiny surfaces like the mirrors here. Koons often makes series of artworks to explore his ideas. This group of artworks is called Inflatables.

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“One of the amazing things about art is that it changes every day, and its meaning to you changes every day.”

―Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), 1979. Vinyl and mirrors; 32 × 25 × 19 in. (81.3 × 63.5 × 48.3 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), 1979. Vinyl and mirrors; 32 × 25 × 19 in. (81.3 × 63.5 × 48.3 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © Jeff Koons

“I’ve always liked inflatables because they remind me of us.”

―Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, New Hoover Celebrity III’s, 1980. Two vacuum cleaners, Plexiglass, fluorescent lights; 56 × 11 × 12 1/2 in. (142.2 × 27.9 × 31.8 cm). Collection of Jeffrey Deitch. ©Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, New Hoover Celebrity III’s, 1980. Two vacuum cleaners, Plexiglass, fluorescent lights; 56 × 11 × 12 1/2 in. (142.2 × 27.9 × 31.8 cm). Collection of Jeffrey Deitch. ©Jeff Koons

My father, Henry Koons, was a decorator. And so I grew up being in my father’s showroom. Understanding, really, very young in life and through our home, too, that different colors, different textures make you feel different sensations.

―Jeff Koons

MATERIALS
Here are some of the materials that Jeff Koons has used in his work.

Vinyl

Jeff Koons, Popeye, 2009–12. Granite and live flowering plants; 78 × 52 3⁄8 × 28 3⁄8 in. (198.1 × 132.9 × 72.1 cm). Bill Bell Collection. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Popeye, 2009–12. Granite and live flowering plants; 78 × 52 3⁄8 × 28 3⁄8 in. (198.1 × 132.9 × 72.1 cm). Bill Bell Collection. © Jeff Koons

This is Koons’s sculpture of Popeye, a cartoon character who would eat spinach when he wanted to become really strong. Notice that Koons has replaced Popeye’s can of spinach with real live flowers! In the artist’s words:

Popeye is about an image of, I am what I am. Kind of a symbol of self-acceptance that you have to embrace who you are. Popeye has spinach. Spinach brings about his transcendence, and brings about his power. That’s what art [is]. Art is our spinach.

―Jeff Koons


Please note that a number of the works on the third floor of the exhibition feature sexually explicit content.