Gagosian is pleased to present Jeff Koons’s first major exhibition at Gagosian New York, following exhibitions at Gagosian London and Gagosian Los Angeles over the last decade. It takes the form of a rich sampling of several major bodies of recent work, demonstrating how Koons’s themes and formal approaches continue to overlap and interpenetrate across time.
With sources as diverse as children’s art, comic-book characters, and figures from classical antiquity, Koons continues to draw a common thread through cultural history, creating works that attempt to touch the core of the human psyche. Addressing various conceptual constructs including the new, the banal, and the sublime, he has taken his work from its literal, deadpan beginnings in readymades to baroque creations that extol innocence, beauty, sexuality, and happiness in confounding combinations of abstraction, figuration, sumptuous effect, and pure spectacle.
The Antiquity paintings (2009–13) pulse with complex layerings of image, reference, and chromatic nuance as Koons explores the historical oscillation of form in painting and sculpture, the movement back and forth between two and three dimensions, that underpins so much of his own artwork. At the center of each scene is a famous ancient or classical sculpture—so meticulously rendered in oil paint as to suggest both the third dimension and the stone out of which it is carved—symbolizing love, ardor, potency, or fertility. Images of popular figurines or figures of popular culture, scaled to the same size as the sculptures, serve to further conflate the aesthetic registers of each painterly composition. The equally detailed backdrops include an Arcadian vision, a tiling of other artworks, and an expressionistic abstraction.
Two outsized Venus sculptures in mirror-polished stainless steel are the first sculptures to be completed in the Antiquity series. In one, Koons represents the much-emulated classical erotic subject, the Callipygian Venus or Venus of the round buttocks, as a gleaming turquoise monochrome. The other is an astonishing interpretation of one of the world’s earliest known sculptures, the fecund Venus of Willendorf. The extreme contours of the original small figurine, transposed into a twisted balloon and enlarged to a colossal scale, become a complex of reflective magenta curves approaching total abstraction.
Works from the Hulk Elvis series range from precision-machined bronze sculptures, inspired by inflatable toys and extruded in three dimensions from popular cartoon sources, to granite monoliths. Hulk (Wheelbarrow) and Cannonballs (Hulk) are polychromed sculptures conceived simultaneously with the Hulk Elvis paintings of 2007. A black granite sculpture standing eight feet tall, Gorilla recalls Emmanuel Frémeit’s Gorilla Carrying off a Woman (1887), which influenced King Kong. Gorilla is based on a toy model that Koons purchased from a souvenir-vending machine at the Los Angeles Zoo.
The Celebration series, which Koons began working on twenty years ago, was inspired by an enduring fascination with childhood experiences and childlike consciousness. In dialogue with this body of work are three new sculptures—Balloon Swan (Blue), Balloon Rabbit (Yellow), and Balloon Monkey (Red)—in which children’s party favors are reconceived as mesmerizing monumental forms. With their impressive scale, fluid lines, and immaculate, mirrorlike surfaces, they achieve a perfect tension between representation and abstraction.
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.
The Bigger Picture
Jeff Koons speaks with Alison McDonald and Maura Harty about his longstanding commitment to protecting the rights of children.
Jeff Koons Glenn Fuhrman
The FLAG Art Foundation hosted a conversation between Jeff Koons and FLAG founder Glenn Fuhrman, in which the two discuss the dichotomy between sexuality and childhood innocence in Koons’s oeuvre, remaking Made in Heaven with Lady Gaga, what drives Koons to make more work, and several works including Cat on a Clothesline (1994–2001) and Winter Bears (1988).
The Last 36 Hours
Derek Blasberg speaks with Scott Rothkopf, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, about the last thirty-six hours of the Jeff Koons retrospective, which also marked the end of the museum’s tenure in uptown Manhattan.
Split-Rocker: A Landscaping Perspective
Jeff Koons’s flowering sculpture Split-Rocker, at once imposing and adorable, has cast a spell on New York City’s Rockefeller Center. Derek Blasberg interviews Matt Donham, Koons’s landscape designer on the project, to find out more.
May 30–August 24, 2018
976 Madison Avenue, New York
March 10–April 21, 2018
West 24th Street, New York
Extended through August 18, 2017
April 27–August 18, 2017
Gazing Ball Paintings
November 9–December 23, 2015
West 21st Street, New York