Episode #4 of the course “Ground-breaking contemporary artists”
Jeff Koons is an American artist known mostly for his sculpture. Koons re-creates everyday, commonplace objects in larger scale with different materials, or otherwise attempts to re-interpret mass-produced items for an artistic audience. One of his most famous series is a reproduction of balloon animals on a large scale in stainless steel (Balloon Dogs). His career has spanned three decades, and he currently lives and works out of his studio in New York City.
Balloon Swan (Blue), Ballon Monkey (Red), Balloon Rabbit
While Koons claims there are no “hidden meanings” or “critiques” in his artworks, he is often interpreted as critiquing modern life’s love of advertising and commercialism. He is sometimes accused of being satirical, but Koons maintains that his artistic efforts are sincere. His work shows influence from Baroque and Rococo art, in addition to modern art and pop art. Reactions to Koons are varied, with some believing he is a visionary and others believing he is not a true artist. In the midst of controversies about his artwork, his pieces have sold for record-setting prices.
Michael Jackson and Bubbles
Koons grew up in Pennsylvania, then studied art in Chicago and Maryland before settling in New York. While spending several years as a stockbroker during the 1980s, he became recognized as an artist. He sculpted celebrity figures like Michael Jackson (Michael Jackson and Bubbles), as well as everyday objects such as flowers or plastic toys. He consistently releases his art pieces as parts in a series, and he produces three of each piece so that they can concurrently be shown in different locations.
Most of Koons’ pieces are so large or intricate that he requires an entire team to assemble and produce them. His workshop includes as many as 90 apprentices. Koons developed a “color-by-numbers” system in the early days to communicate uniform instructions to all the team members working on any given piece. He believes that this cooperation makes the artwork extend beyond merely his own self-expression.
“I think about my work every minute of the day.”
“When people make judgments they close all the possibility around them.”
“Art is about profundity. It’s about connecting to everything that it means to be alive, but you have to act.”
“I love the gallery, the arena of representation. It’s a commercial world, and morality is based generally around economics, and that’s taking place in the art gallery.”
“If I try to articulate every little detail in a drawing, it would be like missing the forest for the trees, so it’s just about getting the outline of the forest.”
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