Born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania and New York-based Jeff Koons is America’s most famous living artist. The so-called “master of kitsch” is an ambitious perfectionist, he transforms banal items into sumptuous icons, experiments with digital technologies, produces photos in the manner of baroque paintings, and all his finish products have an exquisite appearance.
As he blends concepts of Pop Art, Conceptual Art and Appropriation Art with popular culture, he blurs the lines of “good taste” and makes his own unique iconography, often controversial and always engaging. More than that, his works explore the contemporary obsessions of sex, desire, race, gender, celebrities, media, commerce and fame, as he frames questions about taste and pleasure and shifts the scale of banal items. With that Jeff Koons puts kitsch in the same level as classical art.
“The hierarchy of things is a kind of defense mechanism that just alienates”. – Jeff Koon
His appropriations of our consumerist world and American culture remind us of Marcel Duchamp’s “Readymades” and Andy Warhol (who would complete 84 years this Monday, if he was still alive). His icons are stunning and spectacular and they speak to the society based on the tripod: sex, art and money.
In fact, Jeff Koons wants his art to communicate to everyone, the broader the audience the better, after all for him: “Art is really just communication of something and the more archetypal it is, the more communicative it is.”
This year, you can see a big part of his collection in the Beyer Foundation in Basel, Switzerland, where an extensive exhibition documents his artistic development over the past thirty years of practice through the lenses of three milestone series: ‘the new’, which showcases Koons’s earliest work, a series of readymade-like appliances and sculptures; ‘banality’, which includes sculptures in porcelain and wood, that take as their subject pop culture icons and Koons‘s most ambitious series to date ‘celebration’, a collection of hyper realistic large-scale stainless steel sculptures.
Also this year Jeff Koons appeared at the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series The Colbert Report for an interview with Stephen Colbert, the host, writer and executive producer of the show. Colbert synthesizes the American artist, or as he calls him: “The world’s most expensive birthday clown.” popularity very well: “A lot of them (pieces) are shiny, so when I look at them, I can see me, and then I’m interested in it.” Koons replies that they’re shiny for affirmation, to create an experience.