Jeff Koons is one of the most controversial as well as sought-after contemporary artists. He holds the record for the most expensive living artist with his 'Rabbit' at auction from 2019 at $91.1 million. His themes are everyday life and consumption, advertising and the sexualisation of life. With his works of everyday objects, he has also been called a master of the banal or kitsch.
His father exhibited his paintings in his furniture shop, so he sold his first painting at the age of 11. Koons studied at art colleges in Baltimore and Chicago and worked part-time as a commodities broker for a few years. He had his first solo exhibition in 1980 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. At first, he exhibited everyday objects such as hoovers or basketballs in showcases as if they had been soaked in formalin. In this way, he ironically combined commodity fetishism and art. He subsequently increased this to a synthesis of kitsch and art, for example by depicting oversized dogs made of flowers. Or apparent balloon dogs, which are, however, elaborately made of stainless steel and undermine the relationship between the material and the object.
Apparent bric-a-brac figures of Michael Jackson and his monkey or superficially cheap plush figures turn out to be filigree small editions produced in time-consuming manual labour. These sculptures belong to the 'Banality' series, which thematises and at the same time criticises the superficiality and clumsy aesthetics of kitsch objects.
In 1990, Koons created the erotic photo series and sculptures entitled 'Made in Heaven' with the pornographic actress Ilona Staller ('Cicciolina'), which he understood as a strategic provocation to show true beauty. Koons and Staller's marriage, which took place in 1991, was divorced just one year later.
Koons designed the new edition of the 'BMW Art Car', as well as wine labels and record sleeves, such as for Lady Gaga. In this way, his art becomes a consumer product.
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