Switched-on commentator of our times or narcissistic charlatan? American artist Jeff Koons has always split opinion neatly in two. Now the Pompidou Centre in Paris lays his work bare for all to see, so are you friend or foe?
BY DEE IVA
America’s enfant terrible Jeff Koons is probably the last living exponent of Pop Art to have a major retrospective of his work. The Pompidou Centre in Paris is currently hosting 100 sculptures and paintings by this irreverent and controversial artist, tracing his colourful 35-year career.
Like Warhol before him, Koons’ fascination with everyday objects led him to glorify the banal and the functional and to transform them into covetable works of art. Years before British artist Damien Hirst put a shark into formaldehyde, Koons was displaying vacuum cleaners in glass cases and basketballs in aquariums, attracting both acclaim and scepticism from the art establishment and public alike.
ABOVE: 'Balloon Dog (Magenta)' 1994-2000
ABOVE RIGHT: 'Split Rocker (Pink/Blue)' 1999
BELOW: 'Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Dr J Silver Series)' 1985
Koons’ most definitive artworks are on show here. The iconic larger-than-life stainless steel balloon animals are instantly recognisable, while the NSFW exhibits of his controversial Made In Heaven collection (Koons and ex-wife La Cicciolina in the throes of passion) are sure to raise a few eyebrows.
Lovers of kitsch will find plenty to drool over too as the infamous ‘Michael Jackson and Bubbles’ sculpture crowns Koons the King of Kitsch in no uncertain terms.
For those who wondered where Lady Gaga got the inspiration for her album ‘Artpop’, look no further than ‘Gazing Ball’, a collection of white sculptures accompanied by a hand-blown bright blue glass ball.
The Pompidou retrospective is the first to stage such an ambitious collection of Koons' work outside America, so love him or loathe him we certainly can’t ignore him. In fact, we think Pop Art’s finest hour is finally here…
ABOVE, TOP ROW: 'Teapot' 1979; 'Hoover Celebrity III' 1980
ABOVE: 'Dutch Couple' 2007
LEFT: 'Lobster' 2003
BELOW: 'Michael Jackson and Bubbles' 1988
BOTTOM: 'Gazing Ball (Ariadne)' 2013
'Jeff Koons: A Retrospective' is on now until 27 April 2015