Jeff Koons: A Retrospective
Audio Guide Playlist

This audio guide features commentary by artist Jeff Koons, Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney's Nancy and Steve Crown Family Curator and Associate Director of Programs, Michelle Kuo, editor of Artforum magazine, and Amy Adler, the Emily Kempin Professor at New York University Law School.


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. 

SCOTT ROTHKOPF: 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.


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