Jeff Koons: A Retrospective // Part 1 of 2

Whether you’re a fan or not, we saw a whole lot of Jeff Koons this year in NYC. And today is the last day of JEFF KOONS: A RETROSPECTIVE at Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building. This exhibition is kind of a big deal, because it’s Koons’ first major museum presentation in New York, even though he has been regarded as one of the popular and controversial artists. And also this is the last exhibition before Whitney reopens in Meatpacking District in 2015. I have loved this museum as long as I have lived here in the city, there was no way I was going to miss this. And it turned out that it was one of the most exciting shows I have visited.

You still have about half an hour to get there, (they have been open for 36 hours straight this weekend and will finally close 11pm tonight.) But if you haven’t gotten a chance to get there, here is my photo tour. Enjoy!

This exhibition contained almost 150 objects dating from 1978 to the present, covered the whole entire building, broken up in sections.


These are his first experiments with the readymade everyday object found novelty shops in downtown Manhattan, after Koon’s move from Chicago to NYC.


This series is from his first exhibition held in the New Museum’s storefront window in 1980.


Equilibrium was from his first solo gallery exhibition in 1985 at International with Monument. It showed unattainable “state of being,” from cast bronze floatation device to Nike posters that are framed. And the best-known work in the series remains to be the basketballs in the tanks. In 1982, he ran out of money and had to take a day job to finance his artistic projects, but at the same time, critics and collectors started to take him more seriously as an artist with this exhibition.


This series is made to raise questions about the relationships among advertising, class, vice and art. He also showed stainless steel piece to create a fake luxury. A material, which gives an impression of luxury, but not a precious metal and the common material to be used for appliances than fine art. Very interesting contrast to his previous series.


At this point, Koons had become one of the hottest young artists, and was invited to show his work at Sonnabend Gallery in SoHo in 1986. Koons took lowbrow readymade mass-market products and transformed them into highbrow art. The level of detail up close is pretty incredible.


Koons’ next series, expanding from the previous, explored into the whole world of kitsch. Working with traditional German and Italian craftsmen who made decorative and religious objects, Koons made big objects with materials more associated with housewares and tchotchkes than art.


Koons hired a porn star Ilona Staller (also known as La Cicciolina) to pose with him in this series called Made in Heaven. He later fell in love with his costar and married her. More work based on their relationship was produced, and it blurred the line between his life and art by portraying graphic sex acts. He was criticized a lot at the time as narcissistic and misogynist. To this day, the work is represented as not pornography, but a form of self-portraiture.


This series from 1994 includes huge sculptures and paintings that evoke birth, love, religious observances, and procreation. Koons also worked on the series with his abducted son (after his separation from Staller, she took their young son to Italy) in mind constantly. This series, although some seem very simple, was very difficult to execute technically and financially.

Continues to Part 2.