Jeff Koons is considered “a paragon of kitsch” by some, and his art has set world records at auction. Thought to be the most commercially successful living contemporary artist in the world, he is also one of the most controversial.
However, Koons’ personal record may soon be broken. On 11th May 2019, Christie’s New York will offer collectors the chance to bid on Jeff Koons’ 1986 sculpture Rabbit, which is estimated to sell for between $50 million and $70 million.
Here at Maddox Gallery, we are lucky enough to have some of his pieces to share with our visitors.
Balloon Dog (Orange) was one of the first of the Balloon Dogs to be created, and has since sold for an incredible sum.
In November 2013, it was bought at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York for a record $58.4 million (£45 million), far beyond its high estimate of US$55 million. At the time, this made the piece the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold at auction.
Best known for his metal sculptures of balloon animals, Koons turns banal objects into high art icons. He plays with themes of banality, pleasure and commerce, and while his work is often seen as ironic, he insists it is earnest.
“I believe in advertisement and media completely,” Koons has famously claimed. “My art and my personal life are based in it.”
“I’ve always loved Surrealism and Dada and Pop, so I just follow my interests and focus on them,” he stated. “When you do that, things become very metaphysical.”
Within the art world, Koons’ work is labelled as neo-pop or post-Pop, a trend which surfaced in the 1980s as a reaction to the minimalist and conceptualist art favoured in the previous decade.
Koons rejects the notion of any hidden meaning or irony in his artwork. This elevation of unashamed kitsch has divided opinions in the fine art world. However, Koons has become a globally-recognised name, and has also been cited as a major influence by other iconic artists such as Damien Hirst.
He also garnered praise from some art critics. Theorist Samito Jalbuena wrote, “From the beginning of his controversial career, Koons overturned the traditional notion of art inside and out.”
Those who buy Jeff Koons art are often billionaires, but the artist has claimed to never have a specific viewer in mind when he creates a new piece. Recently though, he stepped away from this trope, and created an artwork with a particular audience at the heart of it.
In November 2016, Jeff Koons donated a huge sculpture as a gift to Paris, commemorating the victims of the city’s terrorist attacks. Inspired by the hand of the Statue of Liberty, the fistful of tulips is one of his largest sculptures, reaching a height of 40 feet. The bronze, stainless steel and aluminium work will reside in the gardens of the Petit Palais, near the Champs-Elysées and the Place de la Concorde.
Koons stated that tulips were chosen for their “buoyancy.”
“I hope that the ‘Bouquet of Tulips’ can communicate a sense of future, of optimism, the joy of offering, to find something greater outside the self.”
This is the first commemorative work Koons has created, though “Balloon Flower (Red)” is on display outside 7 World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.
Maddox Gallery is delighted to be able to share Jeff Koons’ iconic sculptures with guests to our Mayfair galleries. Our expert art investment consultants are also on hand to advise and educate visitors on all the contemporary artists we represent.
Written by James Nicholls, Chairman, Maddox Gallery.