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“I try to educate people about materialism through May work. I try to show them real visual luxury.” – Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons is an American artist who works with subjects from popular culture, often banal objects such as ballon animals in high-chromium stainless steel with a mirror-finished surface. His work sharply divides the critics: by some it is lauded as pioneering and of major historical importance whilst others dismiss it as crass and self-merchandising. “I believe in advertisement and media completely,” he says. “My art and my personal life are based in it.
Jeff Koons was born in 1955 and attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, from where he graduated with an MFA. he moved to New York, working as a commodities broker, largely so as to be independent from the art market and thus free to make the art he wanted to produce.
Although often seen as ironic or tongue-in-cheek, Koons insists his practice is earnest and optimistic. “I’ve always loved Surrealism and Dada and Pop, so I just follow my interests and focus on them,” he says. “When you do that, things become very metaphysical.”
The “Banality” series that brought him fame in the 1980s included pseudo-Baroque sculptures of subjects like Michael Jackson with his pet ape, while his monumental topiaries, like the floral Puppy (1992), reference 17th-century French garden design.
His works have sold for record sums; in 2013 his ‘Balloon Dog (Orange)’ broke the record set by Gerhard Richter in 2012 for the most expensive work sold at auction by a living artist when it fetched US$58.4 million at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York. In May 2019 he topped his own record when ‘Rabbit in Stainless Steel’ sold for US$91 million at Christies.
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