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.

MICHELLE KUO: The Liberty Bell, this has been a very long project—years in the making.


My name is Michelle Kuo, and I’m the editor of Artforum magazine. And I wrote an essay about Koons’s fabrication for the show catalogue.


NARRATOR: Kuo’s research offers insight into the extreme lengths that Koons will go to in the creation of his artworks. 


MK: What the finished object seems to achieve is a very perfect level of replication down to even the historical materials used. So the first step, 3D scanning, this goes beyond 99% of what most artists would want to or be able to achieve in capturing the interior and exterior volumes, every nook, every crevice, every cranny of this very large (laughs) and geometrically irregular object, very old object.


The second big thing that they did is that they researched—actually in the fifties, when the Liberty Bell had to be restored, and a lot of research was done at that time into the interior structure of the bell and its support system. So the Koons studio actually did extensive historical research into the materials from this restoration. And they were able to apply that information in recreating even the hidden recesses of the bell that we would not be able to see with the naked eye.


The other body of knowledge they gleaned from that was, for instance, even the precise historical admixture of wood putty that was used. The different kinds of metal that were forged. The different kinds of wood and the treatments of the wood that were used. So they really are, to the closest degree possible, trying to recreate or even refabricate all of those constituent materials. So everything from the substance to the structure, to a degree that I think most would find maniacal (laughs), Koons is trying to re-create.

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