jeff koons at the beyeler foundation jeff koons at the beyeler foundation
jun 17, 2012

jeff koons at the beyeler foundation

balloon dog (red), 1994-2000 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 307,3 x 363,2 x 114,3 cm image © designboom

jeff koons fondation beyeler, basel, switzerland on now through september 2nd, 2012

opening in coincidence with art week basel with support from hugo boss and mercedes benz, the fondation beyeler presents an extensive exhibition of the american artist jeff koons, documenting his artistic development over the past thirty years of practice through the lenses of three milestone series. ‘the new’ showcases koons’s earliest work, as he began in the early 1980’s with a series of readymade-like appliances and sculptures. ‘banality’, a period begun in 1988, includes traditionally crafted sculptures in porcelain and wood, that nonetheless take as their subject ironic confrontations between pop culture icons and baroque artworks.

perhaps koons’s most ambitious series to date is ‘celebration’, a collection of hyperrealistic large-scale stainless steel sculptures and large-format paintings, initiated in 1994 and brought together at the beyeler exhibition for the first time.

balloon dog (close-up), 1994-2000 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 307,3 x 363,2 x 114,3 cm image © designboom

balloon dog, 1995-98 oil on canvas 259,1 x 363,2 cm image © designboom

all works in ‘celebration’ reference memories of childhood, family, and holiday: balloon animals, hanging ornaments, play-doh, an easter egg, and birthday cake. at the same time, they are represented in imposing, room-size forms, composed of high-alloy chrome steel, drawing attention to the contrast between their appearance of weightlessness and their heavy, stable reality. the paintings in the series are based on arrangements of real objects created by the artist– with objects placed in front of draped, reflective foil– which were photographed, reworked via schematization, and then enlarged.

an interesting interaction among media forms is created at beyeler, where several of the sculptures are installed next to a painting of the same subject. the filling of entire rooms, or entire vistas, with the large-scale installations, creates a false sense of scale where viewers again return to the smallness of childhood.

tulips, 1995-2004 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 203,2 x 457,2 x 520,7 cm image © designboom

tulips, 1995-2004 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 203,2 x 457,2 x 520,7 cm image © designboom

tulips, 1995-98 oil on canvas 282,7 x 331,9 cm image © designboom

play doh, 1995-2007 oil on canvas 333,4 x 282,5 cm image © designboom

moon (light pink), 1995-2000 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 330,2 x 330,2 x 101,6 cm image © designboom

moon (detail), 1995-2000 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 330,2 x 330,2 x 101,6 cm image © designboom

cake, 1995-2007 oil on canvas 318.5 x 295.6 cm image © designboom

balloon swan (magenta), 2004-2011 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 350,5 x 302,3 x 238,8 cm image © designboom

balloon swan (magenta), 2004-2011 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 350,5 x 302,3 x 238,8 cm image © designboom

in addition to the room-size installations, ‘celebration’ comprises smaller sculptural works of children’s icons. at first look, ‘titi’ and ‘elephant’ appear to be metallic foil balloons, belying the fact that these too are composed of heavy-weight stainless steel.

titi, 2004-09 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 96,2 x 60,5 x 37,8 cm image © designboom

elephant, 2003 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 92,7 x 73,7 x 48,3 cm image © designboom

cracked egg (blue), 1994-2006 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating two pieces: 198,1 x 157,5 x 157,5 cm and 45,7 x 121,9 x 121,9 cm image © designboom

ribbon, 1995-97/2010 oil on canvas 259,1 x 363,2 cm image © designboom

hanging heart (gold/magenta), 1994-2006 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 291 x 280 x 101,5 cm image © designboom

balloon flower (blue), 1995-2000 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 340 x 285 x 260 cm image © designboom

balloon flower (blue), 1995-2000 high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating 340 x 285 x 260 cm image © designboom

particularly representative of this conceptual basis is ‘split-rocker‘, a floral sculpture first presented by koons in avignon, france, in 2000 and now reinstated at the fondation beyeler. the sculpture departs from two designs of children’s rockers– a rocking horse, and a dinosaur. koons cut the heads of these objects in half and reassembled them, although their edges do not meet. ‘with the combination of pony and dinosaur,‘ exhibition curator theodora vischer offers, ‘‘split-rocker’ embodies that confrontation of opposites that is also expressed in the notion of a ‘monstrous’ , gigantic children’s toy. yet the artist chooses transitory flowers, of all things, as the material for a monument that promises duration. it is not least in this special interplay of supposed opposites that the true tension and force of koons’s art lie.‘

in the beyeler, the porcelain model of the sculpture koons designed for bernardaud is also on exhibition, offering the same mutability of medium highlighted in the ‘celebration’ series.

jeff koons with ‘split-rocker’ at the berower park, fondation beyeler photo © matthias willi

‘split-rocker’, 2000 stainless steel, soil geotextile fabric, internal irrigation system, and live flowering plants 1120,1 x 1181,1 x 1082 cm photo © andri pol

split-rocker vase for bernardaud, 2012 porcelain 36 x 40 x 33 cm image © designboom

curator theodora vischer introduces the ‘jeff koons’ exhibition at the beyeler foundation

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    (15 articles)

    art news