NARRATOR: Koons called this painting Elvis. He intended the two images of the Playboy playmates on its surface to refer to Andy Warhol’s work Double Elvis.
SCOTTROTHKOPF: I think Koons is certainly making a comment, again, about celebrity, about sex, about desire. Elvis himself was a great sex symbol, even if we didn’t see him naked like these characters here.
NARRATOR: The painting has a complex relationship to the physical sense that perhaps relates most closely to desire—touch.
SR: The background of this painting is based on H.C. Westermann prints, and if you look closely at the surface it seems to be emulating a print on paper. Of course, the surface of the skin has another quality entirely, as does the surface of the inflatable object that’s at the top of the composition. I think that he’s quite consciously playing with how a painting can create these different senses of texture, and that that’s certainly related to the touch that’s inspired by images of nude figures, whether they’re male or female, in a painting. And what kind of circuit is made between our sense of touch and our sense of sight seems to be one of the core questions in a picture like this.