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Jeff Koons

Popeye

June 1–July 27, 2007
Davies Street, London

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Installation view

Works Exhibited

Jeff Koons, Lobster, 2003 Polychromed aluminum, steel, and vinyl, 97 × 18 ⅞ × 37 inches (246.4 × 48.3 × 94 cm)© Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Lobster, 2003

Polychromed aluminum, steel, and vinyl, 97 × 18 ⅞ × 37 inches (246.4 × 48.3 × 94 cm)
© Jeff Koons

About

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.