Try This! Gallery Experiments
Jul 30, 2014

Two girls work on a project at the Jeff Koons exhibition

Kids look at works by Jeff Koons in the fourth floor galleries. July 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

On Saturday, July 12, over sixty people participated in Try This!, free, drop-in activities for families and children in the Jeff Koons: A Retrospective exhibition. On the fourth floor, participants received a pink card asking them to find four of Koons’s large-scale sculptures and answer a question about each work. Kids could either write their responses on their own or discuss their ideas with their families.

Kids laugh in front of a sculpture of a balloon dog

Kids respond to Koons’s Balloon Dog (Yellow) (1994-2000), July 2014. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Each question allowed for a variety of interpretations. As families searched for works of art that would “make a sound,” for example, their answers varied widely. Many imagined the sounds that would come from the Hulk Organ (2004-2014) if played, but others thought of the bark of the Balloon Dog (Yellow) (1994-2000) or the meow of the Cat on a Clothesline (1994-2001). One girl thought of the squeaking sounds of rubber balloons being tied, while a young boy imagined the sound the sculptures would make if the balloons were popped.

A sculpture by Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Hulk (Organ), 2004–14. Polychromed bronze and mixed media; 93 1⁄2 x 48 5⁄8 x 27 7⁄8 in. (237.5 × 123.5 × 70.8 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © Jeff Koons

Families were excited to share the work of art they would choose to bring home with them if they could. Play-Doh (1994-2014) was the most popular choice—perhaps because of its enormous scale, bright colors, and implicit invitation to play. Many children expressed how they would climb the sculpture, using the rough cracks of the material in order to grip and then slide down the smoother surfaces. Adults too were awed by the work and surprised to learn that what seemed so convincingly to be Play-Doh was actually painted aluminum.

A sculpture by Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994–2014. Polychromed aluminum; 120 × 108 × 108 in. (304.8 × 274.3 × 274.3 cm). Bill Bell Collection. © Jeff Koons

At the end of the activity, families shared their answers with Whitney educators and received prizes. Overall, families felt that the questions encouraged conversation and engaged their group in an exciting and fun way. Try This! Gallery Experiments are scheduled on select Saturdays from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. No registration is required, and all families are welcome to join.

By Julia Pastor, Interpretation Intern