Alison McDonald has been the director of publications at Gagosian 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 four hundred publications dedicated to the gallery’s artists.
“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.”
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
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