The 59-year-old contemporary artist, Jeff Koons, turns classic and ordinary objects into monumental stature and high-production finish. By appropriation and recontextualization recognizable objects, Koons challenges the viewer to think them as artistic objects, blurring the boundaries between popular taste and high art.
Koons is the most expensive living artist with a life’s work believed to worth close to $1billion. A comprehensive exhibition of his life’s work is taking over the Whitney Museum of American Art at its Madison Avenue location before moving downtown to a Renzo Piano-designed building in 2015.
The exhibit is not just a chronological retrospective. It also includes new works by Koons, including “Play-Doh” (1994–2014), a massive hyper-realist aluminum sculpture meant to resemble a pile of its namesake children’s toy, allegedly took twenty years to execute to Koons’s specifications.
Back in 1994, Mr. Koons set out to replicate a colorful mound of Play-Doh configured by his son, Ludwig. It was to have been fashioned from polyethylene, “But as I started putting more and more detail in the piece, I realized I needed to make it out of aluminum to get a more hyper-realistic surface,” Mr. Koons said, as if to justify the sculpture’s long gestation.
His choice of colors for “Play-Doh” was equally exacting. Mr. Koons ran off, coming back with a tray with small containers of vintage, dried-up Play-Doh, dating to 1994. “Over the years, the company has changed its colors,” Mr. Koons explained, asked why he had saved the samples and original containers. “They are easy to refresh with a little water.” Tiny mounds of bright yellow, blue, purple, red and green will be matched and spray-painted on the cast-aluminum parts at a company in Connecticut that specializes in decorative painting of hot rods and vintage cars. Then they will be assembled into a gigantic mound.
The installation process was another hurdle. The crew made a video of a small-scale model of “Play-Doh” to chart exactly how it will move through the museum lobby, into the elevator and up, where it will join other works from the “Celebration” series.
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Source: wnyc.org, mcachicago.org, dailymail.co.uk. nytimes.com, businessinsider.com
Pictures: wnyc.org, vulture.com
Camilla G.//SMC Editor