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Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994–2014

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Scott Rothkopf: Play-Doh is a deceptively simple sculpture. I say "deceptive," because it's one of the most technically challenging objects in the entire exhibition, and one that Koons has been working on for twenty years, and completed, in fact, just in June.

The idea for this work originally came about out of a mound of Play-Doh that his son, Ludwig, made. Koons talks about his interest in this object being the freedom that the child had to express himself.

That he didn't know the rules of art making, or sculpture, and made something quite beautiful. What's ironic, of course, is that on the one hand this is an abstract sculpture, because it's just a lumpen mound. But on the other hand, it's not abstract at all because it's a perfect depiction of this initial gesture. A depiction, in fact, so perfect that it took twenty years to create.

If you look closely at this object, you see the crustiness. You see the cracks in the surface. You see all of the incredible detail of this mound of Play-Doh that was blown up to a monumental size. The way that it was ultimately achieved was through a casting in metal, and then painting each part.

What's quite amazing about this sculpture structurally is that each of the separate colors that you see is, in fact, a separate piece of metal, a separate cast. It is put together one piece at a time, in a stack. The largest pieces that you see at the bottom, are continuous all the way through. 

Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994–2014

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