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jeff koons at the beyeler foundation
original content
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

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