1955, York, Pennsylvania
Although he studied painting in Chicago and Baltimore, Jeff Koons worked as a Wall Street commodities broker before establishing his artistic career in the 1980s. His earliest works enshrined banal objects — vacuum cleaners, basketballs, kids' inflatable toys — as serious sculpture.
Koons's works have been criticized as tacky kitsch that vulgarizes fine art, yet they are a shrewd indictment of the hypocrisies of the art world's taste and commercialism. As his celebrity grew, Koons satirized his own personality, most notoriously in his 1991 pornographic self-portraits with his then-wife, the Italian porn star and Member of Parliament Ilona Staller (a.k.a. "La Cicciolina").
In his later work Koons has increased the scale and ambition of his fabricated sculptures, while also experimenting with painting and collage. The artist has been sued for copyright infringement several times because of his appropriations from pop culture.