Jeff Koons

New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Blue; New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Blue; Doubledecker
1981–87

Not on view

Jeff Koons began his artistic career in the 1980s by emphasizing the conspicuous consumption that defined the era. He made his mark in the art world with a 1980 exhibition in the window of the New Museum in New York, titled The New, in which New Hoover Convertibles was included. With an irony reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp, who in 1917 exhibited a urinal as a work of art, Koons placed brand-new, store-bought vacuum cleaners in a sterile, fluorescent-lit vitrine that protects them from the dirt and grime they are designed to remove. By thoroughly transforming the expected context and use of the vacuum cleaners, and by raising domestic appliances to the realm of fine art, Koons makes us question not only our assumptions of what constitutes art, but society’s obsession with cleanliness, efficiency, and newness. “I don’t seek to make consumer icons,” Koons explained, “but to decode why and how consumer objects are glorified.”

Artist
Jeff Koons

Title
New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Blue; New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Blue; Doubledecker

Date
1981–87

Classification
Sculpture

Medium
Four vacuum cleaners, acrylic, and fluorescent lights

Dimensions
Overall: 116 × 41 × 28 in. (294.6 × 104.1 × 71.1 cm)

Accession number
89.30a-k

Credit line
Purchase, with funds from The Sondra and Charles Gilman, Jr. Foundation, Inc., and the Painting and Sculpture Committee

Rights and reproductions information
© Jeff Koons


Audio

  • America Is Hard to See

    Jeff Koons, New Hoover Convertibles Green, Blue, New Hoover Convertibles Green, Blue Doubledecker, 1981–87

    Jeff Koons, New Hoover Convertibles Green, Blue, New Hoover Convertibles Green, Blue Doubledecker, 1981–87

    0:00

    Narrator: Artist Jeff Koons.

    Jeff Koons: My father was an interior decorator, so I grew up around objects being displayed. And I think that influenced me very much, and that's how I could envision and make a work like this.

    I’ve always enjoyed display. And the New Hoover Convertibles, Doubledecker, it's just displaying itself. It’s like an individual displaying themselves. My work I believe is always directed toward what it means to be alive, what it means to be a human being in the world we live. And these are breathing machines. They are like individuals. And the first thing that we do when we come into this world to be alive is to breathe. I also enjoy the sexual quality of the work where some vacuum cleaners may read more feminine, others more masculine. I’ve created some double deckers, it's almost like a family unit, like a momma bear, a poppa bear and a baby bear.

    I think the work has a form of visual beauty, but I think that the work’s really more about a philosophical and psychological ideal. These vacuums—these vacuum cleaners are like eternal virgins. They’re brand new. The object has its greatest amount of integrity before it ever participates in the world. Their cords are wrapped up just as they came out of the box. [T]hey've never been turned on. They’re never participated. 

    I’ve always kind of enjoyed the idea of showing Hoover vacuum cleaners. When

    I grew up there were still people coming door to door selling vacuum cleaners.

    And I felt that I was kind of doing that with my artwork. I was a young artist saying, look here, I have something, and I'd like to participate. I'd like to get my foot in the door.



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