Jeff Koons (born 1955) is an American artist, once stockbroker, who rose rapidly in the 1980s as part of a generation of artists who explored the meaning of art in a media-flooded era. Koons takes kitsch or banal objects, such as basketballs, inflatable Easter bunnies, vacuum cleaners, toys, balloon puppies, dolphin pool-rafts, etc and raises them to the level of “high-art” by transforming them into sculptures, and often using them as subject matter for his paintings. Varying in scale, everyday objects of middle-class adoration are transformed into contradictory, self-reflective manifestations. A life-size porcelain of “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” reminds the viewer of a universally-cheap religious gift-shop idol, while a stainless steel inflatable “Rabbit” references the Minimalist sculpture of Donald Judd or Constantin Brâncusi.
Koons’ studio, located in Chelsea (New York City), employs 100+ assistants to help Koons execute his work, which he conceives and oversees but rarely touches. His hands-off approach is every bit a part of the artwork as the sculpture and paintings themselves. His work references real-world objects, fictional and historical figures, famous artworks, etc. from our everyday collective experience. Having always been removed from these products and characters referenced, having never created them in the first-place, there is no need for him to insert himself directly into a hands-on fabrication. By not completing the works himself, Koons frees himself from an object and image fetish that dominates popular-thinking of how art should be practiced. Instead he inserts this work and his own inflated personality/image (an artwork in its own right) into our consumerist experience like a giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon, as a conscious object, one that allows the viewer to experience the odd clash of references and ponder the effects of the everyday on one’s own life. Koons’ artworks continue to grow in popularity, just like Easter or kittens, and consequentially value, verifying the effects his appropriated contributions have on all classes. Jeff shows with Gagosian Gallery and David Zwirner.