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b. 1955, USA

Jeff Koons Biography

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

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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

Jeff Koons Featured Artworks

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Dolphin by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsDolphin, 2007–2013Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent colour coating
20.12 x 78.38 x 37.5 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Puppy (Vase) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsPuppy (Vase), 1998White glazed porcelain vase
17 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Balloon Swan (Yellow) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsBalloon Swan (Yellow), 2017Porcelain
9 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
Gagosian Contact Gallery
New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsNew Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers, 1980Two shampoo polishers, acrylic, fluorescent lights
142.2 x 55.9 x 38.1 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Puppy (Vase) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsPuppy (Vase), 1998White glazed porcelain vase
17.5 x 17.5 x 10.5 inches
Beyer Projects Contact Gallery
Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsBaroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta), 1994 - 2008Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
199.1 x 195.1 x 193 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Balloon Venus (Magenta) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsBalloon Venus (Magenta), 2008-12High chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating
259.1 x 121.9 x 127 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Antiquity 3 by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork
Jeff KoonsAntiquity 3, 2009-11Oil on canvas
259.1 x 350.5 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery

Jeff Koons Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Hong Kong Exchange at Gagosian, Hong Kong
Closed
28 January–30 April 2021 Group Exhibition Hong Kong Exchange GagosianHong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Coalition for the Homeless at Almine Rech, Online Only, Brussels
Closed
26 May–7 June 2020 Group Exhibition Coalition for the Homeless Almine RechOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, On Painting: Art Basel Online at David Zwirner, Online Only, New York
Closed
20–25 March 2020 Group Exhibition On Painting: Art Basel Online David ZwirnerOnline Only

Jeff Koons Represented By

Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium Almine Rech Aspen, Paris, Brussels, London, New York, Shanghai
Beyer Projects contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Beyer Projects New York
David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in 19th Street, New York, USA David Zwirner New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong
Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA Gagosian New York, Athens, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Hong Kong
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Pace Gallery Seoul, New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Beijing

Jeff Koons In Ocula Magazine

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Jeff Koons and Pace Gallery Make It Exclusive Ocula News Jeff Koons and Pace Gallery Make It Exclusive New York, 28 April 2021

Koons sent letters to Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner on Friday announcing his departure from their galleries.

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Amba Sayal-Bennett’s Functional Notations Ocula Insight Amba Sayal-Bennett’s Functional Notations By Stephanie Bailey, Dubai

Amba Sayal-Bennett's latest drawings showing online with Carbon 12 embody a 'grounded otherworldliness'.

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NGV Triennial 2020 Misses the Moment Ocula Feature NGV Triennial 2020 Misses the Moment By Joe Miranda, Melbourne

Joe Miranda questions the promise of the NGV Triennial 2020 to capture the 'world at this unique moment'.

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NGV Triennial Showing Everything From ‘Venus’ to ‘Buttpus’ Ocula News NGV Triennial Showing Everything From ‘Venus’ to ‘Buttpus’ Melbourne, 14 December 2020

The discursive exhibition includes works by over 100 artists and designers, including Jeff Koons, Misaki Kawai, and Diamond Stingily.

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Jeff Koons 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? 8 September 2019, Apollo

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 13 February 2019, Wallpaper*

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...

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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 12 February 2019, Apollo

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 3 February 2018, Hyperallergic

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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Jeff Koons In Video & Audio

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

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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