Jeff Koons' ‘Popeye’ Series at Serpentine Gallery, London (1)

Jeff Koons: 'Caterpillar Ladder' 2003, Polychromed aluminium, aluminium, plastic, 213.4 x 111.8 x 193 cm, © 2009 Jeff Koons courtesy of Serpentine Gallery

In the 80s I thought Jeff Koons' art is only about the widening of the art world's 'good' taste by Kitsch. Today this is only one aspect of his work - he became much more personal.

 

The new pieces appear more mature than his earlier work: 'I find that the work for myself is more and more minimal. I have returned to the readymade. I have returned to really enjoying thinking about Duchamp.'

 

 

What is actually Kitsch?

 

The famous critic Clement Greenberg wrote in 1939: 'Where there is an avant-garde, generally we also find a rear-guard. True enough - simultaneously with the entrance of the avant-garde, a second new cultural phenomenon appeared in the industrial West: that thing to which the Germans give the wonderful name of Kitsch: popular, commercial art. Kitsch is mechanical and operates by formulas. Kitsch is vicarious experience and faked sensations.'

 

The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard writes on Kitsch: 'To the aesthetics of beauty and originality, kitsch opposes its aesthetics of simulation: it everywhere reproduces objects smaller or larger than life; it imitates materials (in plaster, plastic, etc.); it apes forms or combines them discordantly; it repeats fashion without having been part of the experience of fashion'

 

Many think that Koons uses Kitsch objects as irony - but that is not his intention: Koons cleverly overcome the anti-Kitsch paradigm of avant-garde by contemporary works of art made of (fake) Kitsch objects

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. He said at Art Basel he does this 'because he does not believe in judgments'.

 

Koons' art is deeply rooted within art history: One of his idols, Salvador Dali, is frequently quoted in his his work.

 

The lobster in 'Acrobat' references to Dali's 'Telephone-homard - ou Téléphone aphrosisiaque' of 1936.

 

Jeff Koons: 'Acrobat' 2003-2009, Polychromed aluminum, galvanized steel, wood, straw, 228.9 x 148 x 64.8 cm, © 2009 Jeff Koons courtesy by Serpentine Gallery

 

The moustache symbol in the 2003 work 'moustache' could refer also to Dali's beard. As well as to the moustache Duchamp painted on the Mona Lisa.  It is mounted on the ceiling by two chains. Two smiling fake (non)inflatable swimming ring horses made of aluminum hang from the moustache symbol. It reminds me about his unrealized public sculpture project for the city of Hamburg.

 

Jeff Koons: 'Moustache' 2003, Polychromed aluminum, wrought iron, coated steel chain,260.4 x 53.3 x 191.8 cm, © 2009 Jeff Koons courtesy by Serpentine Gallery

Some critics say that Koons repeats himself to much. He is using similar figures (the balloon rabbit, comic figures, inflatable toys ...) on and on. He answers: 'An artist has to have an anchor in personal iconography. You need it; it gives you a sense of traction, a base to hold on to, a vocabulary to speak from.'

 

Jeff Koons: 'Seal Walrus Trashcans' 2003-2009, Polychromed aluminum, galvanized steel, 170.2 x 76.2 x 91.4 cm, © 2009 Jeff Koons courtesy by Serpentine Gallery

 

Many of the stupidly smiling fake (non)inflatable toys are caged or tied to something: The caterpillar within the ladder of 'Caterpillar ladder' or the Walruses in the dustbins of 'Seal Walrus Trashcans' Maybe these ready mades could also be read as his comment on middle class dreams caught within the economic crisis?

 

Jeff Koons: 'Made in Heaven', 1989, lithograph billboard, 125 x 272 inches/317.5 x 690.9 cm, (c) Jeff Koons

Comments

Jim, 18-09-09 12:42
Really cool show!
Aisha, 19-11-09 12:58
The pieces looked so simple but in fact were quite complex!

Good show!
Richard, 16-12-09 08:35
Our century is going to go down as the most banal century for art in all of history or the beginning of banality for art. It's a triumph recording the tastelessness of our upper class for future generations to contemplate.
Reno, 07-08-11 16:35
I'm shcoekd that I found this info so easily.
Maah, 08-01-13 10:51
This is getting a bit more sijcebtuve, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of neighbors will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune Social is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.
Maah, 08-01-13 10:51
This is getting a bit more sijcebtuve, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like Mixview' that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you're listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of neighbors will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune Social is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.
fnrvqafz, 09-01-13 02:43
fnrvqafz, 09-01-13 02:43

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