Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons is a very successful and prolific sculptor. Born in 1955, he is based in New York where his success in art has enabled him to purchase a spacious home and large studio.

Now married to Justine Wheeler with 6 children, life was not always so easy going. He met his first wife Ilona Staller, also known as La Cicciolina in 1987 (an Italian porn star, some may remember she ran for Parliament in Italy) getting together seemed a brilliant career-move for both of them: she was 35, ready to crown her career as Italy's most celebrated porn star with a magnificently improbable liaison; while he, connoisseur of post-modern artworks of jaw-dropping vulgarity, who always teased, like Warhol and Gilbert and George, with the idea of knitting life and art in a seamless robe, now had a partner whose life, like his own work, was all on the outside. (wikipedia)

Despite Jeff not speaking Italian or Ilona speaking English, the couple married in 1990, separated in 1992 and divorced six years later. She mournfully describes him watching videos all day while she was reduced to conversing with the dog. A son resulted however, young Ludwig. When they split, both claimed custody. A bitter and very expensive legal battle ensued, lasting 14 years.(wikipedia)

It's a strange parable of the age, this long fight and its bitter conclusion: two grotesques of the age, she with her absurd political career just behind her, he with his look of a travelling brush salesman, manufacturing huge, knowing pieces of kitsch and persuading the art world to pay ever-more-swollen sums for them.(wikipedia)

As we so often hear, truth is stranger than fiction! He certainly created some erotic paintings during this period.

He has collaborated with many well know stars and names: Lady Gaga for her third studio album, ARTPOP.

The album cover depicts a nude sculpture of Gaga made by Koons behind a blue ball sculpture, and pieces of other art works in the background such as Birth of Venus painted by Sandro Botticelli, which inspired Gaga's image through the new era, including in her music video for Applause and the performance of the song at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. (wikipedia).

Koons was the artist named to design the seventeenth in the series of BMW "Art Cars." His artwork was applied to a race-spec E92 BMW M3, and revealed to the public at The Pompidou Centre in Paris on 2 June 2010. Backed by BMW Motorsport, the car then competed at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans in France(wikipedia)

In April 2017, Jeff Koons collaborated with the luxurious French fashion house Louis Vuitton for the 'Masters Collection' and designed a series of handbags and backpacks featuring the reproductions of his favorite masterpieces by the Old Masters, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Titian, Vincent Van Gogh, Peter Paul Rubens and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Later, he presented another handful of bags and accessories featuring the reproductions of works by Claude Monet, J. M. W. Turner, Edouard Manet, Paul Gauguin and François Boucher. (wikipedia)

Jeff Koons rose to prominence in the mid-1980s as part of a generation of artists who explored the meaning of art in a media-saturated era and the attendant crisis of representation. With his stated artistic intention to “communicate with the masses,” Koons draws from the visual language of advertising, marketing, and the entertainment industry. Testing the limits between popular and elite culture, his sculptural menagerie includes Plexiglas-encased Hoover vacuum cleaners, basketballs suspended in glass aquariums, porcelain homages to Michael Jackson and the Pink Panther (wikipedia)

As with some many creative people, critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons. Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others dismiss his work as kitsch, crass, and based on cynical self-merchandising. We can see why opinions are mixed - he employs about 90 assistants in his New York studio using a color-by-numbers system, enabling each of his assistants to execute his canvases and sculptures as if they had been done "by a single hand". (Wikipedia) Whatever he is doing is attracting the attention of many with serious money to spend.

Is he a true artist? Or do you agree with the critics that he is just looking for a lucrative marketing opportunity? As we have seen so often, artists are always pushing the boundaries - today he is perhaps the Dali of our times - making us think and extending our minds - in the future he may be considered one of the great masters.

Let us know what you think!

Jsvogels@hotmail.com

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