Jeff Koons is an artist. I know this because he is listed in loads (yeah... remember that word. You may want to use it. Or not.) of catalogues. Oh -- and I learned about him in art school. Even back then, heated disputes arose. (This is another good context for "load" again. There will be others. Just pointing it out, though it may or may not be my opinion.) He's a pop artist, which may go some distance towards an explanation.
My point here is that the guy is controversial. He sparks conversation. His work sells for multimillions, regardless of the currency in question. That fact sparks even more controversy than his work.
I just about fell over laughing when I heard this.
Imagine a collection of vintage 1960's vacuum cleaners, all picked up from a day's shopping at thrift shops, arranged on individual white stands, covered by individual plexiglass boxes. Now put them in a lush and lavish bedroom fit for Louis Catorze.
THAT'S why. And it's only a beginning of why! Here's a taste of what one salon looks like.
Now, I'm ok with that to an extent. There is, after all, "nothing new under the sun". (NOT a reference to the Sun King, btw...) I didn't say that, that's why it's in quotation marks. It's from the unknown author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, a writer widely believed to be King Solomon. No one knows for sure if it really was him, but everyone pretty much agrees with the wisdom of the statement. The thing is, when you do go borrowing something that you know full well not to be yours, the polite thing to do is to give credit.
In 1917 a French artist entered a peculiar sculpture into a New York art show and signed a sort of 'pen name' to the front of it. Here is a photo of that entry.
photo from writedesignonline.com
It was absolutely scandalous at the time, and not just because it was a urinal. It was also the beginning of Marcel Duchamp's career in the United States and the challenging, indelible mark he made on 20th Century Art, regardless of how established he was in France before his emigration.
What was the scandal?
For one thing, Duchamp didn't make it. He simply picked it up, wiped it off, signed it, dated it, and submitted it. Some poor schmuck accepting submissions probably got screamed at for weeks by a Women's Committee committee, and that must have been about the most miserable he'd be for a good decade or so, til the Great Depression, if they let him live that long.
Here's the biggest sin of all, though: artists (at the time) didn't get to determine what art was. The art critics got to make that call. Artists create, Critics declare. Because of all of the mighty declarations made over this (in all normal contexts) insignificant chunk of porcelain, the dialogue raised the level of this extraordinary submission to the level of art, defying the critics and empowering the artists.
Another very famous and scandalous Duchamp Readymade (1919) was his alteration of a cheap print of Leonardo daVinci's Mona Lisa. He scribbled a curly moustache on her upper lip and pointy goatee on her chin and wrote in the white space beneath the painting, "LHOOQ". If you say the letters out loud in French it sounds more like "elle ahsh O O cooh", and means (according to my art history profs), "she has a cute arse".
Marcel Duchamp was a god to us.
So why not Koons? Well, maybe he is.
Maybe I'm jealous.
Maybe I'm hoping you'll think about it yourself, not needing to know where I stand. I will say this: do kind of wish Koons would tip his hat either to Duchamp by signing something "Mutt", or to Rene Magritte by making a print of something and writing underneath it, "This is not a ____." He could even take something that is obviously NOT a pipe and write "Cesi n'est pas un pipe." Unfortunately, Jeff Koons seems not to wear a hat to tip.
(To give Koons a bit of credit, I don't believe he does the "ready-made" borrowing anymore. When those works are seen, they are on loan from someone's private collection. The works he's made popular lately resemble figured and mylar baloons. They look so convincingly like colossal mylar baloons, you'll want to know how you can get one for yourself!! Except they are in fact stainless steel. I can't find a source to confirm it, but I think the lobster hanging a the top of this post is also steel that's been painted.)
Maybe right this minute, I'm revelling in the whole "there is nothing new under the sun" PLUS "what goes around comes around". I kind of feel like the New York art world of almost 100 years ago is getting even with the Paris art world of almost 100 years ago (and not missing by more than, say, 100 years) by putting what looks like cheap plastic tschochkes and every day appliances in the Sun King's palace. Hey, it's dialogue, right?
It makes me giggle.
It remains for you to determine whether it's a load of news or just a steaming load.
Looking for a dustbuster to frame and hang on the wall,