Jeff Koons (born Jan 21st 1955), is an American artist dealing with popular culture.
His sculptures depict everyday objects including balloon dogs made of stainless steel.
He lives and works in New York City, and his hometown, York, Pennsylvania. His works sell for substantial sums, including $91.9 million for ‘Rabbit’.
Koons studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the School of Art Institute in Chicago. He rose to prominence in the mid 80’s .
Since 1979, Koons has produced work in series, including a series of vacuum cleaners mounted in illuminated plastic boxes and The Equilibrium series (basketballs floating in distilled water).
One of his most famous artworks is ‘Rabbit’, which was made by casting a readymade, inflatable rabbit in stainless steel.
One of his most interesting and controversial series, in my opinion, was ‘Made in Heaven‘ (1990-91). Koons used his wife, Ilona Staller, as the model. Including titles such as ‘Dirty Ejaculation‘, the images printed on canvas, glass and sculptures, featured Koons and Staller in highly explicit positions.
Koons’ ‘Celebration’ featured large sculptures of balloon dogs, Easter eggs, Valentine’s hearts and diamonds. Each of the twenty sculptures comes in five different colour variations.
In 2002, Koons began his ‘Popeye’ series, featuring the cartoon characters of Popeye and Olive Oil. The Popeye sculpture was purchased for $28 million by Steve Wynn.
There have been mixed reactions to Koons’ work. Some think it is cheap and tacky and reminiscent of 80’s hype, and lacking in imagination.
His work certainly sells for incredible prices!
Personally, I believe that these giant sculptures are magnificent and imposing. I love the stainless steel finishes of the Celebration Series and I love the imagery of the ‘Made in Heaven’ series, with its controversial theme and concept. They are very fresh and modern, and reminiscent of opulence and decadence.
Koons’ work is certainly unique. He stands alone in a kitsch niche.