NARRATOR: For his 1986 exhibition Luxury and Degradation, Koons reproduced a number of liquor advertisements as paintings. This Gordon’s gin ad epitomizes an aspirational upper-middle class fantasy of culture, love, and leisure. As you look around, you’ll see other advertisements targeting a variety of racial, ethnic, and economic demographics and offering different versions of luxury.
SCOTTROTHKOPF: I see Luxury and Degradation as a meditation on seduction of the art object. All of the sculptures and the paintings in this room reflect, in different ways, on how art might seduce you, how advertising might seduce you. How alcohol has an effect on making things seem more desirable. Making you feel, yourself, perhaps more sexy to the person that you’re with.
A lot of Koons’s early work with advertisements deals with false promises. The promise that if you drink this gin, you’re going to find love. The promise that if you buy these shoes, you’ll be a great basketball player. And it’s not exactly that he undermines or contradicts that promise, but by framing it as specifically as he does, in the context of his artworks, he forces us to reflect on whether these promises in fact ring true.