The Whitney is closed today.
Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986
302—Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986
NARRATOR: Koons’s sculpture Rabbit is on view in the center of the room.
SCOTT ROTHKOPF: The Rabbit, I would say, is one of the most famous works of Jeff Koons's career, and in fact, one of the most famous artworks of the last forty or fifty years.
NARRATOR: Curator Scott Rothkopf.
SR: Part of its reasons for having become so well-known is because it's a little difficult to pin down. The blank features of the Rabbit, its absent face, its round head, make it a perfect surface for our infinite projections. Some commentators have talked about the Rabbit as a spaceman. Others have seen him as the Playboy bunny, or an orator holding up a microphone where the carrot is. Koons himself has talked about the carrot to the mouth as a symbol of masturbation.
Another aspect of the Rabbit that makes it so iconic is the incredible balance that Koons achieves between the tremendous specificity of the casting, the fine detailing of the crimps, the puckers of the plastic, with its abstraction: the blankness of the face, the missing printing on the vinyl. The tension that he creates between fine detail on the one hand, and a blankness on the other, is incredibly mesmerizing.
Of course, there's the aspect of this inflatable toy that was meant to be ephemeral, disposable, that it would lose its air, made permanent for all time as its own icon.