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Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons

The Post-Pop Superstar

From kinky to kitsch to conceptual, Jeff Koons’ art is anything but conformist. Beginning in the 1980s, his everyday sculptures - enlarged animal balloons or basketballs floating in display tanks - revered commodity culture and aligned him as an artist interested in banal objects and the ‘bad’ elements of American culture. This reputation as a shock artist was confirmed in the 1990s when he showed paintings depicting him having sex with his then-wife Cicciolina (Ilona Staller), the Hungarian-Italian model-cum-porn-star-cum-politician. But he has also charmed audiences, as with Puppy or Split-Rocker, enormous floral and topiary sculptures, the former now resides permanently at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. This discrepancy between the cute and the creepy is the power that drives Jeff Koons’ art. TASCHEN books celebrates Koons’ work in publications featuring large format images and some including original artwork. Koons also contributed a collector’s art edition sculpture for GOAT, the exceptional Muhammad Ali Champ’s Edition book.

Koons’ media-saturated work is located deep in popular culture. His most famous works, from the series “Celebration,” are steel sculptures in automotive paint with a mirror-finish surface in the form of valentine hearts, easter eggs, tulips, and balloon swans and dogs. This style has been continued with recent works like Metallic Venus. More tangible characters like Popeye, The Hulk, Elvis, and Michael Jackson have also featured in his repertoire. The American artist has collaborated with Martin Kippenberger, Lady Gaga, a painted ‘art car’ for BMW, and wine labels for the vintage Château Mouton Rothschild, often blurring the distinction between art and commerce. Detractors may delight in their naysaying, but his work commands millions at auction - Jeff Koons’ Ballon Dog (orange) set the world record auction price for a living artist - and his position at the forefront of contemporary art is indisputable.