Gagosian Quarterly

June 25, 2014

jeff Koons:A Retrospective

A retrospective befitting the artist who has made such larger-than-life characters as the Hulk and Popeye central figures in his work. Jeff Koons’s first, mammoth one-man show opened at the Whitney, which was also the last show at the museum’s Madison Avenue location. Here, Alison McDonald reflects on Koons’s survey exhibition.

Moon (Light Pink), 1995–2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 130 × 130 × 40 inches (330.2 × 330.2 × 101.6 cm)

Moon (Light Pink), 1995–2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 130 × 130 × 40 inches (330.2 × 330.2 × 101.6 cm)

Alison McDonald

Alison McDonald is the Chief Creative Officer at Gagosian and has overseen marketing and publications at the gallery since 2002. During her tenure she has worked closely with Larry Gagosian to shape every aspect of the gallery’s extensive publishing program and has personally overseen more than five hundred books dedicated to the gallery’s artists. In 2020, McDonald was included in the Observer’s Arts Power 50.

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“Koons is widely known as the maker of a handful of iconic objects, but this retrospective will for the first time demonstrate how they fit together as part of a compelling and multifaceted story that will surprise even those familiar with his work. The incredible range of his materials, subjects, scales, formal approaches, and techniques is virtually unparalleled and will make for a dramatic narrative full of plot twists and discoveries. It’s hard to think of another living artist who has pushed as many aesthetic and cultural limits as Koons has.”
—Scott Rothkopf

This summer the Whitney Museum of American Art will host the most comprehensive retrospective exhibition ever dedicated to the work of Jeff Koons. The show will feature approximately 120 artworks made in a variety of materials, documenting the course of the artist’s thirty-five-year career. Notably, the museum will premiere several never-before-seen sculptures, including Play-Doh, a work of pivotal importance for the artist, which he has been creating for more than twenty years.

Jeff Koons is one of the most significant artists of our era, and this retrospective will allow us for the first time to take in the full measure of his art.

Adam Weinberg
Jeff Koons: A Retrospective

Installation view, Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, June 27–October 19, 2014

When organizing a retrospective on an artist as dynamic, influential, and celebrated as Jeff Koons, the challenges are formidable, which is perhaps why a New York exhibition of this breadth is so long overdue. But, after dedicating much of his attention to Koons’s work for the past decade, exhibition curator Scott Rothkopf has accepted the challenge, with the full support of the Whitney. So, where does one start when organizing a retrospective on the work of an artist as complex as Jeff Koons? At the beginning, of course! The exhibition will be organized according to chronology. In the case of Koons, works of iconic status have appeared with consistency throughout his career, which means that his most celebrated works can appear in the context of the series in which they were created. In presenting all of the series together, the exhibition allows the central interests and explorations that have been consistent in Koons’s oeuvre to rise to the surface.

Themes emerge, including an intense investigation of the Duchampian concept of the readymade, and Koons’s elevation of the commonplace or the familiar to the status of high art; his ambitious pursuit of beauty through technical rigor; his unwillingness to accept any technical limitations; and his search for perfection. Koons has always seemed interested in humanity, in our shared history, and our physical state of being; he captures our breath and our sexuality. He makes us feel light, fills us with optimism, and makes us feel buoyant.

This exhibition also marks the Whitney’s grand finale at the Breuer building uptown, before they move into their new space downtown. They are marking the occasion by celebrating Koons as the first artist whose works will fill nearly the entire museum. The exhibition will travel to the Centre Pompidou in Paris (November 26, 2014–April 27, 2015) and to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (June 5–September 27, 2015).

Artwork © Jeff Koons

Josh Kline, Skittles, 2014, commercial fridge, lightbox, and blended liquids in bottles, 86 ½ × 127 ½ × 41 inches (219.7 × 323.9 × 104.1 cm) © Josh Kline. Photo:  © Timothy Schenck

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.

The cover of the Fall 2019 Gagosian Quarterly magazine. Artwork by Nathaniel Mary Quinn

Now available
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.

Glenstone Museum.

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.

Still from video Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt

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

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.

Jeff Koons

The Bigger Picture
Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons speaks with Alison McDonald and Maura Harty about his longstanding commitment to protecting the rights of children.

Jeff Koons Glenn Fuhrman

In Conversation
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

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

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.

Inkjet print of Jeff Wall's "In the Legion" (2022)

Jeff Wall: In the Domain of Likeness

The Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel has staged a comprehensive Jeff Wall exhibition, now on view until April 21, 2024, including more than fifty works spanning five decades. Here, Barry Schwabsky reflects on the enduring power of and mystery in Wall’s photography.

Detail of Lauren Halsey sculpture depicting praying hands, planets, and other symbol against red and green background

Black Futurity: Lessons in (Art) History to Forge a Path Forward

Jon Copes asks, What can Black History Month mean in the year 2024? He looks to a selection of scholars and artists for the answer.