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Posted Feb 18, 2010 in Arts | 0 Comments

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons

In the last couple of weeks I have found myself caught up in a couple of debates about the work of Jeff Koons. He certainly seems to polarize his audience- they either love him or hate him. I find myself leaning toward the positive side- I was very excited to come across his gigantic Balloon Flower (Red) at 7 World Trade Center in New York last year- but then again I tend to like everything.

Jeff Koons

One thing I realized in these conversations amongst friends and in classrooms is how little I really know about his history, especially his early work, so it seemed like the right time to find out.

Jeff Koons

It seems like most detractors are quick to mention Koons past employment as a Wall Street commodities broker. He is portrayed as a savvy businessman who figured there was easy money to be made in the Art Market if it was played properly. This may or may not be true, but Koons studied painting and obtained a Fine Arts degree before moving to New York and taking a job in finance. I don’t know any students coming out of art school that aren’t looking for a way to make a living while trying to establish an art career, and business experience sure helps too. The emerging art scene in New York in the late seventies and early eighties was coming from punk, street, and D.I.Y. sensibilities, so I imagine someone like Koons, with a suit and tie and steady income, would stick out like a sore thumb.

Jeff Koons BBall

His earliest works were found objects, commercial products with some sort of display apparatus to highlight them. Looking at Koons more recent work, and the reinterpretations he has done of some of his earliest pieces it is interesting to see what has changed and what remains the same.

Jeff Koons

The bright colors, shiny surfaces, and familiarity of the found objects are still there, but integrated with art world materials and scale.

When an artist uses commercial culture as subject matter, unless the work is blatantly critical, it is difficult to interpret. Koons makes no statement towards the meaning or stance of his work other than to say there is no hidden meaning behind it. He has certainly been financially successful, at one time fetching the highest auction price for work by a living artist.

Jeff Koons

The distinction between fans and detractors seems to depend on ones stance towards art and value. The high prices his works fetch, for some people are an indication of his ability to dupe the market, while for others are a symbol of his universal appeal

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons

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