Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Jeff Koons Bubble

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):

 "Balloon Venus (Magenta)" (2008-2012)

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" (2009-2011)

It continues:

“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?

"Hulk (Friends)" (2004-2012)


Anonymous said...

Western culture in a nutshell:

Fra Angelico
van Gogh

Andy Warhol....

Jeff Koons...

Sam L. said...

Are you sure that green thing isn't for sale at $19.95 at Wal-Mart?

Dennis said...

I remember when I was a young man stationed in Washington D.C. I spent a lot of my time in the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, et al.
An aside here. I have often wondered about the New Yorkers who cite all of the cultural positives of the city, but have almost never been to any of them?
Years later I visited the Hirshorn (sp) Museum and was taken by the people gathered around a painting just oohing and aahing about it. I was amazed at the comments and the soaring rhetoric about its meaning and what an important message it was stating about man's existence in this world. So naturally I just had to see this work of art.
As I worked my way threw the admiring crowd I saw a painting the was a some what light brown throughout with a red line and a red dot. Now one has to remember that this was some time ago, because I thought then it not worthy of the time of day. It should surprise no one that this same crowd of pseudo intellectuals got taken in by art produced by monkeys splashing paint on a canvas.
It would seem that the same pseudo intellectuals populate the Jazz world as well. I would posit that Miles Davis used to turn his back on the audience and show other forms of distain because he had no use for these people.
Most of what is called art comes under the heading of "One can polish a turd all one wants, but one still has a turd." Though one has to admit it does have a nice brown color and with a little red line and/or dot it might be a wonderful representative of man's existence?