Jeff Koons is one of America’s most popular contemporary artists. His Neo-Pop aesthetics and wry appropriations of consumer objects, express a reverence for popular culture. “I try to create work that doesn't make viewers feel they're being spoken down to, so they feel open participation,” the artist has explained. He is perhaps best known for his oversized sculptures of kitschy souvenirs, toys, and ornaments that are bright and shiny, as seen in his Celebration (1994–2011) series. With his choice of materials, Koons lends a heft and permanence to otherwise ephemeral items. Born on January 21, 1955 in York, PA, the artist studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to New York in the late 1970s, where he initially made a living as a stock broker on Wall Street. He rose to fame in the 1980s, developing iconic works such as Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), the Made in Heaven (1990–1991) series, and Puppy (1992), which has been installed in Sydney Harbour, Bilbao, and the Palace of Versailles. In 2013, his Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for a record-breaking $58.4 million at Christie’s auction house, making him the most expensive living artist at the time. Always seeking new outlets for his creativity, in 2017, Koons teamed up with the luxury brand Louis Vuitton to produce an edition of bags printed with iconic European paintings. The artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, among others. He currently lives and works in New York, NY.
Rupert Jasen Smith