Jeff Koons is one of the most controversial and intriguing artists to emerge in the last decades of the twentieth century. His work, which has been characterized as “at once utterly fascinating and powerfully repellent,” raises important questions concerning class, power, materialism, and sex in modern culture. Like Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol before him, Koons is concerned with the transformation of everyday objects and, like his predecessors, he has provoked much controversy, confronting head-on the issues of high and low culture, context, and commodification in art.
In a carefully orchestrated series of exhibitions, Koons moved from the appropriation of everyday objects such as inflatable toys, vacuum cleaners, and basketballs; to the simulation of kitsch figurines, often re-created on a monumental scale in porcelain and polychromed wood; to his Made in Heaven series, which includes large-scale paintings and sculptures of the artist and his wife Ilona Staller (Cicciolina, former Italian erotic film star and parliamentarian). Portions of the latter were first displayed at the 1990 Venice Biennale, in which Koons was one of the artists representing the United States.
This publication, created in collaboration with the artist, illustrates numerous pieces from Koons’s series Early, The New, Equilibrium, Luxury and Degradation, Statuary, Banality, and Made in Heaven, seen together here for the first time. Also included are four fully illustrated interpretive essays that address the richness and complexity of Koons’s oeuvre, as well as insightful comments by the artist about his work.