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Art Basel in Hong Kong: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Art Basel in Hong Kong: Exhibitions to See 23 Mar 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

For those visiting during Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), the smell of fresh paint may still be in the air at the latest heritage conservation project, The Mills, which opened on 16 March to encompass the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT), joining the ranks with ex-prison complex Tai Kwun, along with Eaton HK—a retro...

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Firenze Lai Ocula Conversation Firenze Lai

Firenze Lai says that she knows her studio of a few hundred square feet intimately; from the textures of its surfaces to the way the breeze blows into the room. The spaces depicted in her paintings are equally intimate. When curators seem to be at a loss for words to discuss troubled times, fear of containment, and the feeling of being completely...

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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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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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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
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
Balloon Dog (Blue) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork Jeff KoonsBalloon Dog (Blue), 2002 Porcelain,
27 x 27 cm
Brand New Gallery
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 Gallery
Seated Ballerina by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork Jeff KoonsSeated Ballerina, 2010-2015 Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
210.8 x 113.5 x 197.7 cm
Almine Rech Gallery
Gazing Ball (Giotto The Kiss of Judas) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork Jeff KoonsGazing Ball (Giotto The Kiss of Judas), 2015-2016 Oil on canvas, glass, and aluminum
166 x 165.1 x 37.5 cm
Almine Rech Gallery
Gazing Ball (Manet Spanish Singer) by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork Jeff KoonsGazing Ball (Manet Spanish Singer), 2014 - 2015 Oil on canvas, glass and aluminium
175.9 x 136.5 x 37.5 cm
Almine Rech Gallery
Plate Lips by Jeff Koons contemporary artwork Jeff KoonsPlate Lips, 2012 Serigraph on white porcelain,
31 x 31 cm
Page Blackie Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Laws of Motion at Gagosian, San Francisco
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
20 November–21 December 2018 Group Exhibition Laws of Motion Gagosian, Hong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Jeff Koons, Solo Exhibition at Almine Rech Gallery, London
4 October 2016–21 January 2017 Jeff Koons Solo Exhibition Almine Rech Gallery, 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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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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Urs Fischer’s bonfire of the vanities in Florence Related Press Urs Fischer’s bonfire of the vanities in Florence Apollo Magazine : 29 September 2017

Urs Fischer came to public prominence in 2011 when he melted a full-size wax replica of Giambologna's Rape of the Sabine Woman at the 50th Venice Biennale. Giambologna's tour-de-force has stood in the Loggia dei Lanzi of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence since 1583, and today the acclaimed Swiss artist returned to this theatre of art and...

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