Jeffrey “Jeff” Koons (born January 21, 1955)
The life cycle 6 3
Important years of life
A Koons sculpture of a ballerina looks like a copy of the piece Ballerina Lenochka created by the Ukrainian artist uk: Oksana Zhnykrup in 1974
After college, Koons moved to New York in 1977 and worked at the membership desk of the Museum of Modern Art while establishing himself as an artist. During this time, he dyed his hair red and would often cultivate a pencil mustache, after Salvador Dalí.
Another example for Koons’s early work is The Equilibrium Series (1983), consisting of one to three basketballs floating in distilled water, a project the artist had researched with the help of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. The Total
Equilibrium Tanks are completely filled with distilled water and a small amount of ordinary salt, to assist the hollow balls in remaining suspended in the centre of the liquid. In a second version, the 50/50 Tanks, only half the tank is filled with distilled
water, with the result that the balls float half in and half out of the water. In addition, Koons conceived and fabricated five unique works for the Encased series (1983–1993/98), sculptures consisting of stacked sporting balls with their original cardboard
packaging in glass display case.
Koons started creating sculptures using inflatable toys in the 1970s. Taking a readymade inflatable rabbit Koons cast the object in highly polished stainless steel, resulting in Rabbit (1986), one of his most famous artworks. Originally part of the private collection of Ileana Sonnabend, Rabbit is today owned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. A proof of the sculpture is owned by Eli Broad
First shown in Koons’ eponymous exhibitions at the short-lived International With Monument Gallery, New York, and at Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1986, the Luxury and Degradation series is a group of works thematically centered on alcohol.
This group included a stainless steel travel cocktail cabinet, a Baccarat crystal decanter and other hand-made renderings of alcohol-related paraphernalia, as well as reprinted and framed ads for drinks such as Gordon’s Gin (“I Could Go for Something
Gordon’s”), Hennessy (“Hennessy, The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law”), Bacardi (“Aquí… el gran sabor del ron Bacardi”), Dewars (“The Empire State of Scotch”), Martell (“I Assume You Drink Martell”) and Frangelico (“Stay in Tonight” and “Find a Quiet
Table”) in seductively intensified colors on canvas Koons appropriated these advertisements and revalued them by recontextualizing them into artworks. They “deliver a critique of traditional advertising that supports Baudrillard’s censorious view of the obscene promiscuity of consumer signs”. Another work, Jim Beam – J.B. Turner Engine (1986) is based on a commemorative, collectible in bottle in the form of a locomotive that was created by Jim Beam; however, Koons appropriated this model and had it cast in gleaming stainless-steel. The train model cast in steel titled Jim Beam – Baggage Car (1986) even contains Jim Beam bourbon
In 1986, he appeared in a group show with Peter Halley, Ashley Bickerton, Ross Minoru Laing and Meyer Vaisman at Sonnabend Gallery in New York.
As a young artist, Koons was included in many exhibitions curated by Richard Milazzo including The New Capital at White Columns in 1984, Paravision at Postmasters Gallery in 1985, Cult and Decorum at Tibor De Nagy Gallery in 1986, Time After Time at Diane Brown Gallery in 1986, Spiritual America at CEPA in 1986
The Economist reported that Thomas H. Lee, a private-equity investor, sold Jim Beam J.B. Turner Train (1986) in a package deal brokered by Giraud Pissarro Segalot for more than US$15 million. In 2012, Tulips (1995-2004) brought a record auction price for Koons at Christie’s, selling to a telephone bidder for US$33.6 million, well above its high US$25 million estimate
Koons has been represented by dealers such as Mary Boone (1979–1980), Sonnabend Gallery (since 1986), Max Hetzler in Berlin and Jérôme de Noirmont in Paris. The exclusive right to the primary sale of the “Celebration” series is held by Gagosian Gallery, his dominant dealer. Today Koons works closely with Gagosian and with Sonnabend.The artist is widely collected in America and Europe, where some collectors acquire his work in depth. Eli Broad has 24 pieces, and Dakis Joannou owns some 38 works from all stages of
the artist’s career
Koons was not among the 44 American artists selected to exhibit his work in Documenta 9 in 1992, but was commissioned by three art dealers to create a piece for nearby Arolsen Castle in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The result was Puppy, a 43 ft (13 m) tall topiary
sculpture of a West Highland White Terrier puppy, executed in a variety of flowers (including Marigolds, Begonias, Impatiens, Petunias, and Lobelias) on a transparent color-coated chrome stainless steel substructure. The self-cleaning flowers would grow
for the specific length of time that the piece was exhibited.The size and location of Puppy -the courtyard of a baroque palace-acknowledged the mass audience. After the outbreak that followed his Made in Heaven series, Koons decided to make “an image that
communicated warmth and love to people.” In 1995, in a co-venture between Museum of Contemporary Art, Kaldor Public Art Projects and Sydney Festival, the sculpture was dismantled and re-erected at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Sydney Harbour on a new, more permanent, stainless steel armature with an internal irrigation system. While the Arolsen Puppy had 20,000 plants, the Sydney version held around 60,000
Koons has been sued several times for copyright infringement over his use of pre-existing images, the original works of others, in his work. In Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a judgment against him for his use of a photograph of puppies as the basis for a sculpture, String of Puppies
While a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Koons fathered a daughter, Shannon Rodgers. Though he offered to marry the girl’s mother, she felt that they were too young for the commitment, and the couple reluctantly put the child up for adoption.
Shannon Rodgers reconnected with Koons in 1995.
In 1991, he married Hungarian-born naturalized-Italian pornography star Cicciolina (Ilona Staller) who for five years (1987–1992)
pursued an alternate career as a member of the Italian Parliament. After seeing her picture in two European magazines, he had flown to Rome, watched her perform, and gone backstage to suggest that they collaborate on what he then thought would be a movie.
She agreed. A series of strenuous photographic sessions became the basis for the “Made in Heaven” paintings and sculptures, in various media. The movie never got made, but Koons and Staller fell in love. He courted her through an interpreter—she spoke very
little English, and Koons, who spoke about four words of Italian, kept trying to communicate directly by speaking English with an Italian accent. The interpreter had to be let go, because she fell in love with Koons. He proposed to Staller in Venice that
spring, and they were married a year later. While maintaining a home in Manhattan, Koons and Staller lived in Munich. In 1992, they had a son, Ludwig. The marriage ended soon afterward amid allegations that Koons had subjected Staller to physical and
emotional abuse. Jeffrey Deitch, a close friend who became Koons’s dealer after Sonnabend, couldn’t understand the marriage to Staller. Koons himself says that Ileana Sonnabend and his father had warned him against it, fearing the worst. “Jeff had confused
fantasy with reality”, Deitch said. “It was as though he felt the ‘Made in Heaven’ work wouldn’t be authentic unless they were married. It was a moral issue for him.” The marriage began to fall apart even before their child, Ludwig, was born. Staller wanted
to keep on performing. (She also offered, publicly, to have sex with Saddam Hussein in exchange for his releasing foreigners held in Iraq.) And then, after divorce proceedings had begun in New York, Staller spirited baby Ludwig out of the New York town house
that Koons had rented for them and took him to Rome. Koons spent more than a decade and millions of dollars in legal battles over custody. The battle ensued with the award of sole custody to Koons by the U.S. court in 1998, which had also dissolved the
marriage. However, he lost custody when the case went to Italy’s Supreme Court. In 2008, Staller filed suit against Koons for failure to pay child support
Created in an edition of five versions, his later work Tulips (1995–2004) consists of a bouquet of multicolor balloon flowers blown up to gargantuan proportions (more than 2 m (6.6 ft) tall and 5 m (16 ft) across). Koons finally started to work on Balloon
Flower in 1995.
Koons is now married to Justine Wheeler, an artist and former employee who began working for Koons’ studio in 1995. The couple have six children
In 2001, Koons undertook a series of paintings, Easyfun-Ethereal, using a collage approach that combined bikinis, food, and landscapes painted under his supervision by assistants.
Koons received the BZ Cultural Award from the City of Berlin in 2000 and the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 2001.
In 2001, one of his three Michael Jackson and Bubbles porcelain sculptures sold for US$5.6 million.
Hulk Elvis is a work series by Jeff Koons created between 2004 and 2014
In August 2013, Dom Pérignon released their 2004 vintage, with a special edition done by Koons, as well as a made-to-order case called the ‘Balloon Venus’. This has a recommended retail price of €15,000
In 2012, Tulips (1995-2004) brought a record auction price for Koons at Christie’s, selling to a telephone bidder for US$33.6 million, well above its high US$25 million estimate
Koons was the artist named to design the seventeenth in the series of BMW “Art Cars.” His artwork was applied to a race-spec E92 BMW M3, and revealed to the public at The Pompidou Centre in Paris on 2 June 2010. Backed by BMW Motorsport, the car then competed at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans in France
From February 15 to March 6, 2008, Koons donated a private tour of his studio to the Hereditary Disease Foundation for auction on Charitybuzz. From his limited-edition 2010 Tulip designs for Kiehl’s Crème de Corps, a portion of the proceeds went to the Koons
Family Institute, an initiative of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. Since his relationship with the
International Centre began, Koons has given over US$4.3 million to the Institute that bears his family’s name.
In 2010, he bought the neighbouring 10,000-square-foot mansion at 13 East 67th Street, the longtime home of Barbara Sears Rockefeller, for US$20 million
His works have sold for substantial sums, including at least one world record auction price for a work by a living artist. On November 12, 2013, Koons’s Balloon Dog (Orange) sold at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City for US$58.4 million, above its high US$55 million estimate, becoming the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction.
Koons worked with American pop performer Lady Gaga on her 2013 studio album Artpop, including the creation of its cover artwork featuring a sculpture he made of Lady Gaga
In 2013 he received the U.S. State Department’s Medal of Arts