Jeff Koones, Metallic Venus, 2010-2012. Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating and live flowering plants
Jeff Koons is reaching back into art history with his new series “Antiquity,” exploring the goddess of love in huge glossy metallic sculptures such as the turquoise Metallic Venus.
Jeff Koons: The Painter and Sculptor was showing at two venues in Germany’s banking capital (20 June-23September 2012). Sculptures towering over ancient figures in Frankfurt’s Liebieghaus museum, where Koons’s work was interspersed among sculptures from antiquity to the 19th century.
Jeff Koons plays with ideas of taste, pleasure, celebrity, and commerce. “I believe in advertisement and media completely,” he says. “My art and my personal life are based in it.” Working with seductive commercial materials (such as the high chromium stainless steel of his “Balloon Dog” sculptures or his vinyl “Inflatables”), shifts of scale, and an elaborate studio system involving many technicians, Koons turns banal objects into high art icons. His paintings and sculptures borrow widely from art-historical techniques and styles; although often seen as ironic or tongue-in-cheek, Koons insists his practice is earnest and optimistic. “I’ve always loved Surrealism and Dada and Pop, so I just follow my interests and focus on them,” he says. “When you do that, things become very metaphysical.” The “Banality” series that brought him fame in the 1980s included pseudo-Baroque sculptures of subjects like Michael Jackson with his pet ape, while his monumental topiaries, like the floral Puppy (1992), reference 17th-century French garden design.