NARRATOR: Curator Scott Rothkopf discusses Boy with Pony, a painting from Koons’s Celebration series.
SCOTTROTHKOPF: Koons began each of these images with a photograph of a simple object in his studio, against a Mylar backdrop. In this case, a plastic toy of pony and of a little boy. That’s the easy part in a way, constructing the image. The hard part is, how does this image end up on the canvas with the precision that Koons demanded?
To do this, if you look closely at the surface, you’ll see that it’s broken down into thousands of tiny, discrete units, so that each of the different shades of blue, in this case, is rendered and articulated as its own separate form. Koons talks a lot about how, in these paintings, he didn’t want colors to be blended from one surface to the next. It’s quite common for an artist to take a highlight and blend it into a dark phase, and you don’t see the different steps in the gradation.
For Koons, that kind of blending is often less believable because you don’t know how to trust a picture that in a way, could have a shorthand. There is no shorthand here. If you get up close, you look at this almost like a child’s color-by-numbers kits, or perhaps a stained glass window, where every dot of color is differentiated from the area next to it as its own discrete shape.
It’s quite amazing, stupefying even, to think about how Koons created these different color gradations, because he had to look at an area of blue and see within it hundreds of different shades of blue.