My Summer With Jeff Koons

Anyone who knows me is well aware I never lack for conversation nor hesitate to share my opinions.  After all I am a born and bred New Yorker and we never hesitate to articulate our thoughts. After all, if you see something, say something!  But the work of the controversial artist Jeff Koons renders me speechless ….. and this is no small feat. Ok, my friends – don’t smirk!  So I will take pen to paper and try to coherently articulate my thoughts on the art of Jeff Koons … hope you will indulge me and read on.

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Each and every morning when I awaken to television’s “The Today Show” the artwork of Jeff Koons is literally and figuratively in full bloom at midtown’s Rockefeller Center, directly on the 52nd Street /Fifth Avenue’s Rockefeller Plaza –  filling every inch of my tv frame. You can’t miss this massive floral animal shaped structure titled “Split Rocker”  tastefully (not an adjective normally used to describe the work of Jeff Koons!) composed of 50,000 flowers – quite a spectacular summer sight. This is an artist who not only followed his dreams…but dreamed BIG.

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So I decided to take in the retrospective of Jeff Koon’s artwork currently occupying practically every floor of the Whitney Museum at 75th Street and Madison Avenue. You may already be aware that the Whitney is moving downtown and this challenging exhibit will be the last show at this particular locale.  On a personal note,  I will so miss this uptown showcase, I  love this accessible gem of a modernist museum, guess I am an uptown girl at heart, such a wealth of museums and art up in my ‘hood.  Hate to part with any of it, I admit, so I selfishly wish the Whitney would stay put. That being said…..

Jeff Koons lives only a few blocks from the uptown Whitney, and his devotion and admiration for NYC is so apparent, it is only right that he be deservedly honored with the last show at this locale.  He is as bold and brassy as NYC itself!

As to the exhibit itself….

WOW

It will be there until October 19th  2014 –  do not miss this arguably intense but  intriguing and just plain fun exhibit.  Approximately 150 objects are on display in chronological order – from 1970 to the present – starting on the 2nd floor and up to the 4th floor.  Such diversity and breadth to his work, his is a singular vision in every medium – in a manner NONE of us could conceive!  We are all familiar with his later brave, blatant works i.e. the Balloon Dog, the Silver Rabbit, Michael Jackson and Bubbles – these are very much a part of our modern consciousness. But this exhibit (which I suspect will NEVER happen again, excepting for its move to the Pompidou Centre in Paris after it leaves the Whitney) takes us completely into the mind of the artist.  For this exhibit, his work is displayed in context and thoroughly organized not only chronologically but divided and titled according to his varied viewpoints at certain points in his still young life.  Such a marvel of creativity via the artist’s personal philosophy – like who thinks like this?!   He is at the outermost edge of the boundary between mass commercialism and art….but leaves his viewers to decide WHERE, WHEN – and ultimately IF he has crossed this invisible line. And ultimately, does it really matter?

His joy in his work is infectious, be prepared for some unexpected shocks, but also some good giggles. 

The organization of his work for this retrospective is grouped not only by floor but by titles such as “Inflatables” – “Pre-New/ the New” – “Banality.”   His personal life and opinions are distinctly referenced in his sculptures and an amazing variety of mediums, but especially apparent is his “Made in Heaven” series reflecting his romance and subsequent first marriage. (Just a note: this particular division is sexually explicit, not suggested for children.)  Personally, I took great pleasure in his “Pool Toys” especially his all knowing, all seeing aluminum lobster … so deceptively simple but ultimately complex in thought,  materials  and placement. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water!

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The last floor, which contains his physically largest works, will blow your mind. I felt like a kid in a candy store when I stepped off the elevator. It was like Macy’s “Santa Land” meets Disneyland in Paris…oh, the possibilities!   His “Play Doh” sculpture alone in this division is beyond comprehension – a marvel of form, shape, construction and color. 

However be certain not to miss his solo piece i.e.  “Popeye” on the Whitney’s lower level and his glistening “Gazing Ball” series on the 1st floor.

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This is a rare opportunity to enjoy a living artist’s work in context – such a chance may never present itself again. A great show for a great city. It bears repetition….WOW. A worthy farewell to the uptown Whitney.

Bravo Jeff, you are an American original and true to your vision and talent.

 
 
WHERE: The Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue
New York, New York

 

By: Joanne Theodorou 

 

18 Comments

  • Marcia says:

    I’ve never seen a Jeff Koons exhibition, Joanne, I’ll have to check it out and the flower sculpture on the Today Show!

  • My gosh I love the rabbit. It is soooooooo cute even though large. Would have been fun to check out if I was nearby.

    • Used York City says:

      Haha, it is, isn’t it?:-) Funny how easily kids’ pool toys can be converted to art…!

  • Catherine says:

    Had never heard of this guy before to be completely honest, but his work looks really unusual and interesting. Would live to explore the inflatables section.

  • Tamara says:

    I like that – about how he dreamed BIG. Clearly. His work renders me speechless too, and that is no easy task.

  • Jaklien says:

    It’s so rare to see art by living artists these days. Love you post.

  • Mike says:

    You know what fascinated me the most of the art? Was the Play Doh sculpture! I love the part where you included “his devotion and admiration for NYC is so apparent” regarding Jeff Koons. THAT is art that I would want to see! I’ve told you for a long time that it’s a foregone conclusion that you, your husband and Gillman will be my guides to NYC when I get there. And I WILL! Thank you for this post Jess because I loved “hearing” your excitement and enthusiasm being a born and bred New Yorker! By the way…you have really evolved as a blogger…through both your writing and presentation. Love it! You rock always our friend :)

    • Used York City says:

      Haha thanks Mike, but all the credit from this article goes straight to our illustrious arts lover and writer, Joanne! We ADORE her excitement and passion of the arts, she’s the best!:-) Oh, and a dog lover, too! (Bonus!:-)

      • Mike says:

        My sincerest apologies, Joanne! I truly did read the entire post and loved it. I just did not catch your name so far down where I’m not used to seeing one! My fault and I look forward to more of your fantastic writing!

        • Joanne says:

          Not to worry Mike, and glad you so enjoy Jessica’s blog. We love NYC but above all, we love SHARING our passion for the endless and fascinating ” doings” in this amazing city. We never lack for things to do here and want others to join in the fun!

  • Maria Falvey says:

    Love that you point out this exhibition is a rare opportunity to enjoy a living artist’s work in context – very true.

    • Used York City says:

      We at UYC are HUGE fans of living artists…gotta appreciate these guys while they’re alive!;-)

  • Richa Saxena says:

    The architecture is indeed very beautiful! Jeff Koons really seems to be an amazing experience..Lovely Post! :)

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