© Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Photography: Norbert Miguletz
oil on canvas
299.7 x 431.8 cm
Private Collection, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
© Jeff Koons
Source: Schirn Kunsthalle
The exhibition “Jeff Koons. The Painter” at the Schirn – spread out almost over the gallery’s entire exhibition space – will be the first ever to offer a comprehensive overview of the artist’s painterly work, from the early machine paintings of the Luxury & Degradation series and the Made in Heaven works to the large-scale hand-painted work of the "Celebration", "Easyfun", "Easyfun-Ethereal", "Popeye", "Hulk Elvis" and new "Antiquity" series. The quotations from everyday life and various art-historical as well as general-historical epochs which Koons interweaves in his paintings are free-floating compositional elements assigned a modulatory or repetitive function. With the aid of image-editing computer programs, he succeeds in superimposing many layers and creating a new whole. By means of analytical attention to detail, he dissolves the pictorial composition which has thus evolved into a spectrum of multiply differentiated colors, only to have them then painstakingly transferred to canvas.
Cool, mechanical, and absolute perfection are the qualities that characterize these paintings which – even though they have been painted by hand – follow a clearly defined route. In the "Made in Heaven" series of 1989–91 that show the artist having sex with the Hungarian-Italian adult film actress and politician Cicciolina (Ilona Staller), who would later become his wife, the sculptures and paintings still differ distinctly with regard to motif. The mingling of the two media began in the context of "Celebration", a series developed from 1994 onwards. A heart, a piece of cake, or a children’s birthday party hat, placed on shiny, colourful gift-wrapping paper, stand out three-dimensionally while at the same time merging with the foil reflecting them, their background.
In the two consecutive series "Easyfun" (1999–2000) and "Easyfun-Ethereal" (2000–2002) foregrounds and backgrounds, centers and edges are virtually no longer distinguishable from one another. With them, Koons attains a simultaneity and hybridity which virtually defy decipherment. In his more recent series, "Antiquity", on the other hand, he draws from the bountiful repertoire of antique art and combines it with his own iconography.
About the artist
Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1955. He studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is today one of the world’s most prominent contemporary artists. His works are to be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, and elsewhere. They have moreover been featured internationally in numerous solo exhibitions. Koons has been awarded many distinctions for his art, and his sculptures in the public realm – e.g. the monumental flower sculpture "Puppy" (1992) – have attained far-reaching popularity.