Considered the heir of Andy Warhol, because of his closeness to pop culture, the American artist, Jeffrey Koons, simply known as Jeff Koons, uses “kitsch” to bring “the man in the street” closer to art and break the line between high culture and popular culture.
In this way, commercials and television personalities become artworks “accessible” to the “man on the street” for themes familiar to him, but also a tool for an ironic criticism, and at the same time sharp, to the American way of life and its tendency to consumerism. While mass culture remains Koons’ main source of inspiration, his works express a not too veiled criticism of the banality and superficiality of consumerism. With his way of making art, Koons ironizes and desecrates that same society that made him famous and that continues to celebrate him even today, establishing with it an indisputably ambiguous relationship. Born in York (Pennsylvania) on 21 January 1955, from a young age he devoted himself to his passion, painting, and helped his father in the family’s furniture store. In the 70s he became assistant to the painter Ed Pasche, his professor at the Art Institute of Chicago, and graduated in 1976 at the College of Art in Baltimore.
The following year Koons moved to New York where he abandoned his traditional painting methods and drew inspiration from artists such as Martin Kippenberger and Robert Smithson. But it was in 1980 that he made his official entrance into the world of art, after working as a financial broker, and exhibited at the New Museum. Among the most highly regarded living artists at the moment, Koons uses different techniques and materials (from plastic to marble, from porcelain to metals), identifying the thematic cycles of his artistic career.
To remind you of a few: Inflatables flowers mostly flowers made with inflatable on a mirror. Equilibrium, basketballs suspended in balance in glass cases, similar to an aquarium for fish, in a solution of distilled water and sodium chloride, but also basketball players of the lower social classes, a symbol of social redemption, in the role of kings and luminaries of science.
The pre-new, combinations of everyday objects (toasters or teapots) and a metal base or neon lamps, to be hung on the wall like traditional paintings. Celebration, representation of toys or other objects of birthday parties, a tribute to the distant son, attempt to communicate remotely with him, after separation from Staller.
The celebration includes five different colour versions of the Ballon Dogs and contains already Koons’ particular interpretation of the pictorial tradition of collage. Popeye, a series where the technique of collage is transferred from painting to sculpture proposing installations composed of aluminium casts of inflatable toys with other objects such as pots or chairs and intended to be hung from the ceiling with chains.
Among the latest products of Koons’ artistic activity (2017), the collaboration with the famous instant messaging app, Snapchat, to give life to the project “Snapchat Art”: exploit augmented reality to create artworks in different corners of the world, viewable only through the lens of the smartphone.
Edit by Prof. Angela Natrone