Jeff Koons has got to be the visual artist most associated with rock star status, while creating Pop art. One man, three genres, hundreds of objects large and small. The zing of pizazz, large bulbous high-gloss objects and statuary, household and everyday items—the Whitney is bedecked with one crown jewel after another, and the titillating factor is very high.
Perhaps swept away by the ever-present high energy of being in the midst of such a glamorous show, all of your senses will be stimulated to capacity, I suggest taking a break between floors. That should make for at least three between session breaks, as this retrospective marks the first time the Whitney has dedicated its entire space to one artist. And it will also be the last, at least at this location. They’ll continue the trend, when they move to their new downtown digs.
In this mammoth presentation of one artists rise to fame, you really see how Pop art cuts to the chase. With ready-made approachability, Koons and his work seem to have touched an unlimited source of creative prowess. So much that the factory approach is a necessary part of that equation. And all the scoffing, gosh don’t be fooled. What is so wrong with creating as much relatable work as humanly possible? And yes, the factory is an arm of humanity. How do you think food (organic or Monsanto) gets on your plate? Food is sacred too, isn’t it?
Admittedly I am a recent Koons convert, and perhaps swept away by the ever-present high energy of being in the midst of such a glamorous show. We humans like to hold on to old ideas, and with a pearl-clutch tight grip we are fraught with all sorts of vexation over the ‘artist’s hand’ concept being challenged.
But then you hear this soft-spoken artist of modest stature speak about his work. The object, however over-the-top, remains second to the idea, even as he challenges the typical aversion to representing coitus between two people, as coitus between two people—it is something most all humans do, yet the shaming of sex, of fucking, and making love some how is dirty in public view. The works in his series Made in Heaven, are merely an alternative perspective.
Jeff’s press-face was solid, air tight, and calm. Countering his extreme works, his coolness was well choreographed, but don’t believe it for a minute.
Do you think Oprah became Queen, by being sweet? The average Fortune 500 master mind, is probably anything but practicing a Zen philosophy.
Relevant to the conversation because as more artists turn to collaborations and fabricators, they are mimicking at least the structure of incorporating. Often times when we lack understanding, the details are scarce. Yet we run with ideas not fully informed. The process is often glossed over, and objects appear quite magically. Who are these unsung heroes who work tirelessly to please the artist’s demands of perfection, and their own integrity of craft?
If the seduction of glamour fills the artist’s work, you can bet it fills them too. It is the opinion of this writer, that as the structure of incorporating finds its way into other systems of making, particularly the arts should find itself of use to the evolution of that structure. Authentic communications, mutuality, and the full on push to inter-subjectivity. Sounds terribly optimistic to me. From Warhol to Koons—listen up, up and coming factorinnaire artists, perhaps this is where you can pick up the baton, further validating this journey so well suited for Pop art.
Jeff Koons spoke of his work in terms of Self Acceptance, acceptance of ones cultural history, and that desire to have The New. I too would like to better understand why for many years, I denied myself the convenience and pleasure of an iPhone. And then my friend Garry Rindfuss—who went from never having a cell phone, to being an iPhone owner, let me hold his… I had for a few years, denied that touching, and the same thing for the iPad. And today I too have an Apple symbol as my technology crest of allegiance. On a higher note I’m all for investigating that desire to have the gleaming new, eroticism, and joyful things.
The retrospective is exhausting to say the least, there are so many ideas in one museum to contemplate. I left feeling drenched, my senses touched to the max, surrounded by vessels of fabricated emotion. As the voyeur I took particular pleasure knowing that is was OK to stare. It was acceptable in this place to let it course through my veins, and in this environment everything becomes subject to, not simply interpretation, but an engaging with interior dialogues with an outside source aside from that sense of longing that the artist’s works reference.
The artist has one job. She or he must see the idea Become a thing; a sharable symbol of ideas. Despite what’s been done for 1000s of years, there is no Truth that believes in the limiting of Concept.
We trust the artist’s mind, so long as it can be contained by our own. The moment that boundary is breached, we are first suspect—it is a very basic survival instinct, that for good reason has never left us. For over three decades Jeff Koons has challenged, not only his, but also the minds of those with an interest in art.
The prolific work of the artist—would we have such a full perspective if not for the factory setting? What if his bodies of work never made it past Banality? Would we see such a big picture, in grand totality? Koons’s work is truly interconnected, telling a story from one person’s view. Obviously the Whitney agrees, and hence we have this retrospective of Jeff Koons work, years in the making, finally come to fruition.
And these boots…