Jeff Koons's "Balloon Dog"
Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art
Installation dates: April 22 – October 26, 2008 (weather permitting) - Location: The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum, New York
Sculptures by Jeff Koons (b. 1955) – an American artist known internationally for his controversial and intriguing contributions to contemporary art – comprise The Metropolitan Museum of Art's 2008 installation on The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, opening April 22. The installation will feature three large-scale and brilliantly colored works: Balloon Dog (Yellow) of 1994-2000, Coloring Book of 1997-2005, and Sacred Heart (Red/Gold) of 1994-2007 – all made of high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating. These sculptures have never before been on public display. They will be situated in the 10,000-square-foot open-air space that offers spectacular views of Central Park and the New York City skyline. Jeff Koons on the Roof will be the 11th consecutive single-artist installation on the Cantor Roof Garden.
The exhibition is made possible by Bloomberg.
Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.
Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Curator in Charge of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum, stated: "We are thrilled to have the buoyant and joyous works of Mr. Koons for our summer exhibition, and we are grateful to everyone who made this possible, from the artist and his studio, to the owners of the works, to the funders of the exhibition."
Selected from the artist's Celebration series (1994-present) – sculptures and paintings depicting toys and childhood themes blown up to fantastic proportions – these three Pop sculptures are characteristic of Koons's work over the past dozen or so years. The more than 10-foot-tall Balloon Dog (Yellow) is based on balloons twisted into the shape of a toy dog; the highly reflective and brightly colored surface gives the appearance of an actual balloon in a form that would delight a child but would also fascinate any student of Freud. Coloring Book is an abstraction rendered in cheerful pastel colors; the artist was inspired to create this piece by a page from a Winnie the Pooh coloring book featuring Pooh's companion Piglet. Sacred Heart (Red/Gold) , with its sumptuous surfaces of wrapping and ribbon, may suggest childhood – as well as adult – dreams and fantasies about candy and luxury goods, intermixed with religious imagery. As a group, they demonstrate extraordinary technical virtuosity in the rendering of large perfected forms on an enormous scale, and offer viewers a certain jouissance and jubilant spirit.
Born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1955, Koons painted copies of the Old Masters and sold them in the furniture store owned by his father, an interior decorator. In 1976 he graduated with a B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, having also studied painting at the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to New York in 1977 and worked at the Museum of Modern Art's membership desk while beginning his career as an artist, creating works from plastic inflatable flowers, bunny rabbits, and mirrors. In 1980 he became a commodities trader in order to finance the work that would eventually appear in his series The New (1980–81): vacuum cleaners displayed in Plexiglas vitrines. Additional series followed as he burst onto the contemporary art scene in the 1980s, achieving international attention and laying claim to a legacy of sensationalism and provocation over the past two and a half decades.
Throughout his career Koons has made art that refers to the everyday world around him. He looks for inspiration in American culture and in today's consumer world, appropriating everything from advertisements to vacuum cleaners, cartoon characters, and collectibles, to plastic toys. His work owes a debt to Marcel Duchamp's Readymades, which place decidedly non-artistic objects in an aesthetic context, and to Andy Warhol. Koons has often stated that he wishes his art to communicate with as broad an audience as possible. Exploring contemporary obsessions with sexuality and desire; race and gender; and celebrity, commerce, and the media, his choice of objects and images forcefully addresses the impact of class, power, materialism, and consumerism in contemporary life.