Apparently, P. T. Barnum never said it, but still: “there’s a sucker born every minute.”
He might have added: “there’s no sucker like a rich sucker.”
Few people understand this better than Jeff Koons.
Declared by The Economist to be, “America’s most famous living artist,” Koons is better described as a man who has mastered the art of conning the rich.
Anyone who really believes that Koons is “America’s most famous living artist” has also been conned, intellectually. Has The Economist critic forgotten about Jasper Johns?
Koons sculptures sell for millions. Very few individuals have enough disposable income to take a multi-million dollar flyer on a grouping of vacuum cleaners or on a pornographic image of Koons and his ex-wife, famed porn star Ciccolino.
Most Koons sculptures are oversized cartoon-like figures larded over by pseudo-intellectual pretension. They mock anyone who takes them seriously. As for those who buy them, they prove the old proverb: “A fool and his money are soon parted.”
Of course, there are fools and there are greater fools.
Anyone who was smart enough to buy a Koons in the artist’s early years and who will be smart enough to sell it before the bubble deflates will be very rich indeed.
More power to him. Yet, he will have gained his wealth from speculating, not from investing in an object of great intrinsic value.
Koons loves bubble-like and balloon-like figure. He loves inflation, and he has succeeded at producing a market bubble.
Some time ago he produced a famous sculpture of Michael Jackson and his chimp “Bubbles.” He has also produced a dog that seemed to be made of balloons. Then, as though he wanted to mock art critics, he compared the dog to the Trojan Horse.
You remember Shakespeare's old line: My kingdom for a dog!
And then there is a more recent Koons sculpture of a fertility goddess. Get it? Pregnancy as a bubble.
Here is the “Balloon Venus (Magenta):
A century from now people will look at works by Jeff Koons and shake their heads. They will find it incomprehensible that anyone could have taken the work seriously, especially when the work never takes the viewer seriously.
Koons might claim to respect his viewer, but clearly he is laughing all the way to the bank.
Happily for Koons, art critics, like the one who reviewed his work in The Economist are easily duped.
The review indulges in the usual politically correct double talk by asserting that Koons’s “Popeye” both displays and lampoons male power.
“Popeye” is a stainless-steel statue in an unusually large range of translucent colours. He holds a silver tin of emerald-green spinach that could also be a pot of money. The messianic figure’s show of physical power is absurd but real.
How come you didn't notice that?
The last paragraph of the review makes it seem that the critic is on the Koons payroll:
Mr Koons’s icons are spectacular—and unrivalled. His figures have rich associations, immaculate shapes and luxurious materials. They speak to a global elite that believes in the holy trinity of sex, art and money. Art collectors enjoy seeing themselves reflected in what they buy.
Not only has Jeff Koons managed to con more than a few superrich collectors out of their money, but he has also succeeded in persuading a serious art critic in a serious publication to act the perfect fool.
Here is Koons "spectacular" and "unrivalled" self-portrait. Another Remmbrandt, don't you think?