Gagosian is pleased to present an exhibition of selected sculptures from Jeff Koons’s Popeye series.
The Popeye sculptures have obvious precedents in Koons’s seminal sculptures of the ’80s—the cast metal readymade inflatables such as Lifeboat and Aqualung (both 1985) and Rabbit (1986), in which breath, forever trapped in metal, formed one the central themes of the artist’s oeuvre. However, Koons’s early preoccupation with abstract concepts such as eternity and paradox has reached new heights in these cast aluminum sculptures painted to simulate the brightly hued, inflatable children’s pool toys from which they were derived. Unlike the earlier metal casts where the material (bronze or stainless steel) was plainly evident, these objects defy reason, their weight and rigidity obscured by the dissembling paintwork that perfectly replicates the quality of supple plastic. Unexpected visual juxtapositions—a kiddie pool in the shape of a spotted dog with a panel displaying a pair of panties stretched tightly around a woman’s legs; a hanging chain of monkeys with a chair; a multicolored caterpillar with chains—attest to Koons’s uncanny ability to make everyday objects step outside of time into the suspended state of art.
From the outset of his controversial career, Koons turned the traditional notion of the work of art and its context inside out. Focusing on unexpected yet banal objects, from vacuum cleaners and inflatable flowers to novelty drink caddies, china figurines, and children’s toys, he eschewed typical standards of “good taste” in art, instead embracing what he perceives as conventional, distinctly American, middle-class values to expose the vulnerabilities of aesthetic hierarchies and value systems. Koons’s declared strategies are to make art beautiful, to strive for objectivity, to give back the familiar, and to reflect, and thus empower, the viewer. Addressing various conceptual constructs such as the new, the banal, and the heavenly, his work has evolved from its literal, deadpan beginnings into more baroque manifestations that oscillate between abstraction, pure spectacle, and archetype.
Laws of Motion
Catalyzed by Laws of Motion—a group exhibition pairing artworks from the 1980s on by Jeff Koons, Cady Noland, Rosemarie Trockel, and Jeff Wall with contemporary sculptures by Josh Kline and Anicka Yi—Wyatt Allgeier discusses the convergences and divergences in these artists’ practices with an eye to the economic worlds from which they spring.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Intimate Grandeur: Glenstone Museum
Paul Goldberger tracks the evolution of Mitchell and Emily Rales’s Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. Set amid 230 acres of pristine landscape and housing a world-class collection of modern and contemporary art, this graceful complex of pavilions, designed by architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, opened to the public in the fall of 2018.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Jeff Koons: Easyfun-Ethereal
Learn more about Jeff Koons’s Easyfun-Ethereal series in this video featuring Rebecca Sternthal, one of the organizers behind the most recent exhibition of these works in New York.
The Bigger Picture
Derek Blasberg speaks with Diane Brown, president and founder of RxArt, and with contributing artists Dan Colen, Urs Fischer, and Jeff Koons about the transformative power of visual art.