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Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide Ocula Conversation Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide

Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...

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Sydney Lowdown: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Sydney Lowdown: Exhibitions to See 6 Sep 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The fifth edition of Sydney Contemporary will take place once again at Carriageworks between 12 and 15 September 2019, with Spring 1883 bringing together a cohort of 27 galleries from across Australia and the region to inhabit rooms at the Establishment Hotel from 11 to 14 September 2019, uniquely presenting contemporary works propped up on...

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Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

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Jeff Koons

b. 1955, USA

Jeff Koons is an American contemporary artist whose works often reference popular culture and are characterised by an interest in the banal and readymade. 

Koons received his BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to New York, his current city of residence. During the late 1970s, Koons worked as a student assistant for the artist Ed Paschke, whom is cited along with Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Duchamp as early influencers upon the artist’s practice. In the 1980s, Koons worked as a commodities broker, later explaining this move as a way to finance his artistic career before returning to being a full-time artist.

During the 1980s, Koons rose to prominence as part of a group of artists who came to be associated with the term Neo-Geo. The group is often discussed in the context of the art world’s critique of a media-saturated and consumer-influenced culture and the commodification of the art object. Other artists included Ashley Bickerton and Peter Halley.

Working predominantly in series, Koons creates works in a number of mediums ranging from photography to sculpture, often using readymade objects or objects that appear to be readymade. Early work included The New (1979–1987), a series of branded and mounted vacuum cleaners. When they were first exhibited in the window of the New Museum in New York in 1980, they were arranged in cabinets and displayed as if in a showroom. The works were oriented around a central red fluorescent lightbox, which had the words ‘The New’ written on it, as if referencing a new brand. Subsequent series included Easyfun Ethereal (2001), which included multi-media collages of images of bikinis, lips, eyes, cars, food and landscapes. Koons drew from the visual language of advertising to make the familiar yet unrelated images communicate to his audience. 

His sculpture Acrobat (2003–2009) exemplifies Koon’s often deceptive riff on the concept of Marcel Duchamp’s readymade. The work is a large lobster, vertically balanced upside down on its claws between an upturned bin and a chair. It immediately appears to be an inflatable plastic pool toy, due to the realistic paint detail and naturalistic crinkling around its edges. The work is in fact made from stainless steel and is exceptionally heavy. 

The artist is perhaps best known for his large-scale public sculptures. An example is Puppy (1992), a giant 13-metre sculpture created using live flowers and depicting a West Highland Terrier. The work references the topiary garden style that dates back to Roman times, when bushes were trimmed to resemble statues of animals. In 1995, the work was erected at Darling Harbour, Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and in 1997, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation purchased the work and relocated it to the exterior of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. At the inauguration of the Bilbao that same year, Spanish police intercepted a terrorist plan to blow up the Puppy sculpture. The men, disguised as gardeners, planned to install detonating flowerpots into the work. 

Works such as Puppy are highly technical, taking several months to create. In addition to flowers grown offsite, a 3D computer model was used to construct the stainless steel framework of the work. Hand-moulded wire mesh lined with soil was then placed on the frame, along with an internal irrigation system. The irrigation system ensures the work is kept blossoming and allows it to continue growing. Its creation is due both in part to Koons’ conceptual premise and the manpower of his studio assistants. Koons currently employs 148 people in his studio to assist with his projects. Although Koons began by making his own sculptures and paintings, he now employs people so that he is not limited by the time taken to make his works. This time gives him the freedom to edit his works, increase his productivity and control the process of each work. 

Nina Lala | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsSacred Heart (Magenta/Gold), 1994–2007 Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
140.5 x 86 x 47.62 inches
Gagosian
Puppy (Vase) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsPuppy (Vase), 1998 White glazed porcelain vase
17 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches
Gagosian
Balloon Swan (Yellow) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsBalloon Swan (Yellow), 2017 Porcelain
9 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
Gagosian
Balloon Rabbit (Red) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsBalloon Rabbit (Red), 2017 Porcelain
11 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
Gagosian
Balloon Monkey (Blue) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsBalloon Monkey (Blue), 2017 Porcelain
10 x 8 1/4 x 15 1/2 inches
Gagosian
New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsNew Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers, 1980 Two shampoo polishers, acrylic, fluorescent lights
142.2 x 55.9 x 38.1 cm
Gagosian
Puppy (Vase) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsPuppy (Vase), 1998 White glazed porcelain vase
17.5 x 17.5 x 10.5 inches
Beyer Projects
Gazing Ball (Bottlerack) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsGazing Ball (Bottlerack), 2012-2016 Galvanized steel and glass
91.4 x 40 x 40.5 cm
Almine Rech

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Laws of Motion at Gagosian, San Francisco
Closed
14 January–9 March 2019 Group Exhibition Laws of Motion Gagosian, San Francisco
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Laws of Motion at Gagosian, Hong Kong
Closed
20 November–21 December 2018 Group Exhibition Laws of Motion Gagosian, Hong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Jeff Koons, Solo Exhibition at Almine Rech, London
Closed
4 October 2016–21 January 2017 Jeff Koons Solo Exhibition Almine Rech, London

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

On The Player And The Game: The Jeff Koons Retrospective Ocula Report On The Player And The Game: The Jeff Koons Retrospective 23 Sep 2014 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

The Jeff Koons retrospective at The Whitney Museum of American Art is many things to many people. This is especially true of the critics who have weighed in on the show—the largest exhibition of a single artist the museum has ever mounted, and the last exhibition at its current address.

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Dakis Joannou Ocula Conversation Dakis Joannou Founder, DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Greece

In 1983, Dakis Joannou, along with curators Adelina Von Furstenberg and Efi Strousa, founded the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art. DESTE has staged exhibitions that include Cultural Geometry (1988), Psychological Abstraction (1989), Artificial Nature (1990), Post Human (1992-1993); four shows artist Andreas Angelidakis describes as four...

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In Related Press

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How did artists’ multiples come to fetch multiple millions? Related Press How did artists’ multiples come to fetch multiple millions? Apollo : 8 September 2019

The art market seems to defy most conventional laws of economics, but has historically obeyed the law of supply and demand, prizing the rare above what is easily come by, and the unique above all. Increasingly, however, even this principle is looking wobbly, as art that comes in multiples gains in appeal and value.

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Jeff Koons is putting a new shine on the Ashmolean Related Press Jeff Koons is putting a new shine on the Ashmolean Wallpaper* : 13 February 2019

Jeff Koons is back. The American artist and art commerce kingpin has just opened his latest show at Oxford's Ashmolean, the world's oldest public museum. Seventeen significant works – 14 of which make their first appearance on UK soil – span the artist's career and radically distinctive oeuvre including Equilibrium, Antiquity and Gazing Ball in a...

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In his shiny surfaces, Jeff Koons reflects the vanity of our age Related Press In his shiny surfaces, Jeff Koons reflects the vanity of our age Apollo : 12 February 2019

The first image to greet the visitor at the entrance to this exhibition, arranged across three galleries in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, is a life-sized photo portrait of Jeff Koons in his New York studio. Standing on a plinth, he gazes out at the viewer, one hand holding a deep-blue glass sphere that, like the mirror in the 'Arnolfini Portrait',...

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A Mega-Gallery Marks a Quarter Century Related Press A Mega-Gallery Marks a Quarter Century Hyperallergic : 3 February 2018

With five New York spaces, outposts in London and Hong Kong, 165 employees, more than a half-billion dollars in sales last year alone, and a Renzo Piano-designed flagship slated to open on 20th Street in 2020, it's no wonder that David Zwirner Gallery is routinely, and sometimes derisively, called a mega-gallery, and Zwirner himself a mega-dealer...

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In Video & Audio

Episode 1 | Jeff Koons and Luke Syson Related Video & Audio Episode 1 | Jeff Koons and Luke Syson David Zwirner : 27 June 2018

A conversation about Duchamp, Michael Jackson, the allure of the Renaissance in the age of Instagram, and more.In the debut episode of David Zwirner’s new podcast, world-renowned artist Jeff Koons talks with Luke Syson, Chairman of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Their far-ranging exchange touches on...

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