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Jeff Koons: Paintings, 2001 – 2013

March 1 @ 10:00 am - May 25 @ 6:00 pm

Source: Galleries Now

At once alluring and chaotic, Koons’s Easyfun-Ethereal series is renowned for its combination of iconography from mass media and childhood nostalgia, interlaced with faint echoes from art history to exude energy and joy. Its genesis stemmed from the enthusiastic public response to the ultra-reflective sculpture Balloon Flower (Blue) (1995-2000) installed in Potsdamer Platz at the turn of the century, prompting the Deutsche Guggenheim to commission seven canvases for a landmark exhibition in 2000. Travelling around the globe to the Guggenheim Bilbao and New York awarded the series widespread exposure and a further seventeen canvases were created by 2002. Using images of food, landscape and the human form, Koons created spectacular compositions that celebrate desire, pleasure and consumerism. Unlike the Easyfun series (1999-2000) which exclusively draws from pure, childlike imagery, this body of work features a more adult lexicon as exemplified by the seductive bikini bottoms overlaying an inflatable cartoon dog in Hot Dog (2002). Pancakes (2001), on the other hand, offers a sensory overload, where pancakes and peas invoke senses of smell and taste, the hands of touch, and the landscape of sights and sound.

Working in thematic series since the late 1970s enabled Koons to develop narratives within bodies of work over a long period of time, creating continuity within his oeuvre. Traces of the Easyfun-Ethereal series are evident in the succeeding Popeye series, be that through the delightful icons of childhood nostalgia or the dystopic layering of everyday objects. Nevertheless, Popeye marks a new narrative for Koons, building on his seminal Inflatables series (1978-1979). Combining the surreal with popular culture, Koons casts inflatable pool toys in aluminium to preserve the folds distinctive of tumescent plastic. The cast is then smoothed, chased, sanded and painted to a trompe l’oeil effect. These wonderful inflatable characters reoccur throughout the Popeye paintings as seen in Monkeys (Ladder) (2003) which draws on the sculpture, Monkeys (Chair) (2003). The iconography stems from the toy game Barrel of Monkeys, a mass-produced source of entertainment that generations know and love. It is these shared histories sparked by symbols from childhood which interests Koons and constitutes the Popeye series.




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