Death, taxes, and Jeff Koons. Just a few nights ago, this was confirmed for me when a normally vapid dinner party conversation veered awkwardly toward picking the greatest living artist of our time. Predictably, it was Koons. Gag me with a stainless-steel bunny! For Koons, on the other hand, stimulation has always come from commercial success. An artist who employs more than people in his New York studio and famously never touches his work, this ex—Wall Street broker has engineered a career devoted to emptying art of everything except what Karl Marx righteously called commodity fetish. But what about his collectibles? While most artists typically separate art and money, Koons brings them into ecstatic union with dependable results. Expensively shiny forms leached of all content—excepting their expensive shininess—his Pink Panther statues and cast-metal lobsters mean what they say and say what they mean with a daft straightforwardness that his moneyed fans rarely acknowledge.
The Warren Cup | C. 5-15
Sirens of success
J eff Koons plays the Ashmolean Museum. Here they stand, rows of colossal objects cast in mirror-bright steel — bunnies and ballerinas, piglets and balloons, in silver and gold and eye-popping magenta, their polished surfaces giving us nothing in return but our own mugs. The fun-house reflections are enough to baffle the eye — but what about the mind? Koons has always been as vacuous as he wants to be. Time has changed nothing except his ramping prices. And who now wants to show the porcelain statue of Michael Jackson and Bubbles , in which the singer appears in white-face with his pet chimp?
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In his virtues and his flaws, Koons is the great American artist we deserve
An example of a work not radical in its time but seen as too explicit for later audiences, The Warren Cup was most likely proudly displayed in a Roman home, but then was considered too deviant for audiences right until the s. Depicting a Greco-Roman practice called pederasty, where young men would take older men as mentors and sexual partners, the what would later be considered homosexual acts depicted on the cup were hidden from public display for centuries before their exhibition, after which they inspired countless gay artists and writers into more radical artworks. The story of the seduction of Leda by Zeus disguised as a swan is filled with erotic potential, so its no wonder it has been attempted by so many, from Michelangelo though his version is sadly lost to Cezanne. An almost cartoon-like portrait of a monk breaking his vows, it looks more at home on a pier-front postcard than a work from a burin of an Old Master. A make-money-quick scheme made during a period of financial turmoil, this image aimed to appeal to the base instincts of a lower class clientele, who could afford an etching but not a painting. To this day, these etchings remain a relative secret, although their frank depiction of unglamorised sex would find followers well into the 21st century. Depicting a topless leather-clad woman turned into a piece of furniture, the piece equally plays on fetishism and femininity with its turning of a woman into an object. Whether this is done with a wry sense of humour or out of pure chauvinism, many cannot agree, but no one can deny how radical the piece is as a piece of sexual subversion.
Their fingers were tangled up on a tablecloth only a bit whiter than her blond hair. Her eyes were as blue as the Mediterranean slurping a couple of hundred yards away, and her eye makeup was much bluer. Jeff Koons. The artist unsoldered his hand and began fondling her thigh. As an ex-porno queen and a Radical Party parliamentary deputy, Cicciolina has one of the most recognizable faces in Italy. His last one-man show, in , contained such pieces as huge ceramic sculptures of the Pink Panther dolefully clutching a centerfold cutie pie, and a reclining Michael Jackson in whiteface with his pet chimpanzee, Bubbles. Many doubted whether Koons had the stuff to take things much further. They were wrong. Koons, who could have sold such pieces from now till Magic Kingdom come, is a risktaker. His manner is puppyish, urgent; his eyes have an earnest glow.