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where nihilism is the new structuralism
Jeff Koons, anyone? 
11th-Aug-2006 04:55 pm
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Jeff Koons is highly respected in the art community. He is known for a number of different sorts of pieces, varying in materials. Sometime in the 1980s (I think), he married a famous Italian porn star and subsequently created a number of famous, life size wax sculptures of them in the act of sex. What I love about the picture of the one above is that it was taken in the gallery, and gives you a much better feel for how these are actually presented, taken in by the viewer.

Perhaps, Koons's sculptures may conflict with some people's "idea" of what art is. But to me, I think it's funny because "sex" has been the driving force behind visual art since the beginning of art, ie. like for-ev-er! And women have been the "symbol" most commonly chosen to represent this topic in at least western art (this changes with other cultures, art outside of "western art", etc.)

So, maybe this actually isn't that exploitative? After all, it's not "woman" as the representation of sex, but sex, itself.

Or, is this so obscene that it should never be exhibited? Is it dangerous? Is it an insult to "real" art? And if so, then what differentiates art from pornography?
Comments 
12th-Aug-2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
Okay, I'll bite.

I like a lot of Jeff Koons work...the more whimsical stuff. But, I don't find his porn peices to be examples of artistic inspiration. I mean, would you call depictions of celebrities in wax museums "art"? They don't necessarily provoke thought as much as perhaps primal impulses. I really don't see the difference between a graphic depiction of a sex act and a graphic depiction of perhaps a rape or a murder scene. If the male figure was impaling her with a knife instead of his penis, would we still raise the question..."is it art"?

But even this kind of "art" has its place...like The Erotic Museum of Los Angeles.
13th-Aug-2006 04:01 am (UTC)
yeah... totally. I totally agree.

I love Jeff Koons-- at least some of Jeff Koons. The first time I saw his Michael Jackson and Bubbles piece in the San Francisco MOMA when I was 15 was like some cracked-out religious experience. After wards, I kept a postcard of the sculpture taped up on my locker until my best friend (at the time) told me it was creeping everybody out.

I should admit I don't know his work as well as I like.

To me (and I'm assuming to everyone else) there are obvious differences between things like his balloon sculptures, the michael jackson and bubbles, and his wax sex sculptures. The Michael Jackson sculpture is amazing because it's poking fun of those porcelain, painted, gold-plated figurines women buy-- that it's larger than life physically, and what the subject matter is.

I love the wax sex sculptures because they get categorized as "art" since they're done by an "artist", but the subject matter is absurd in most "art" settings, ie. it makes people uncomfortable, it makes people question how they use the word art.

To me, nothing about the wax sex sculptures themselves is really that insightful, brilliant, etc., but it's that Koons knew that he could produce these and that they would end up getting analyzed as "art" pieces-- they scream of that self-consciousness. He (I assume) had a keen appreciateion for trash pop art and was using the style (trash pop art) to create outrageous pieces-- and taking advantage of his name.

It's a joke. It's very Dada-esque.

But, it's also a joke in the way that there's this long, academized history of the concept of "sex" being the topic of art; art being sex, etc. which, of course is fine, but many other things/topics can be art. When I see these sculptures, they're making a joke out of academized art; art as an institution, etc.
20th-Mar-2007 02:56 am (UTC)
I agree with the poster above- it's very Dada and in interviews Koons is careful to reference his debt to Duchamp. Koons works closely with sexual puns (recently there were plans to install his hanging train somewhere in Los Angeles. At intervals the train engine revs up, gains speeds, then blows the horn all while emitting steam/gas, then it slowly slows down, letting out dying embers of smoke...the orgasm metaphor is obvious and Koons acknowledges it) as did Duchamp, and it's still witty despite the blatant sexuality.
There's still the question of whether his "balloon" sculptures or other objects are "art" but this goes down the readymade/what is art argument so I'd rather not debate that.
18th-Feb-2008 07:45 am (UTC) - Koons -- IMO, a crass ass
OK, so some of you seem to like Koons and his art.

I respect that he sold lots of art, and that his art is in large collections (like the new LACMA 'Broads' Family' exhibit area), and that he's rich.

However, my personal feelings about all of his work that I've seen:
he's a crass ass, he appeals to the lowest common denominator, his artwork is shameless Americana taken to a higher (lower?) level of crassness, and it's all pretty petty. I'm not inspired or moved by it. Today, I saw the Bunny, the metal inflatable Dog, the Michael Jackson, the basketballs in water, and a bunch of other pieces.
I wasn't inspired or moved by it.

Art is a relative experience. Some people find a whole incredible response to these works. I don't.

Is it Art? Sure it is. Like DuChamp and any other cocky artists from that period -- anything is art.

However, does it set a standard higher (in a good way) for society and thought and culture? Not from my viewpoint.

Fairly consistently, when I see Koons' work, I remember his background as a stock broker and I feel like all he's after is money. And he's getting it, and tons of it, and the best part for him is he never has to physically be involved in the creation. He's like Warhol with a crew of 'craftspeople', aka artists, while he is more of a manager.

The manager/craftsperson relationship is more of an artistic statement about contemporary art in Capitalist America to me than the actual stuff he manages creating.

Koons' art to me is following the same lines of Reality TV or Jerry Springer; ie not to the betterment of US Culture, but more to its shame.

Sorry to be so negative. I felt the same way when we studied him in Art School -- I thought, "what a crass ass!"

PEACE - Ari = rekzkarz.com
4th-Jan-2009 05:08 am (UTC)
Anonymous
Taken seriously? not by all of us in the art world. There is a difference between depicting sex as what it is, a beautiful powerful intense category of experiences which touch down to the very core of the human condition, and the superficial hollow shell of it as depicted by Jeff Koons. Please don't confuse the two. The expression of sexuality which survives throughout the history of art does so because it is a truth about ourselves as persons in a fuller sense of our being. I wouldn't say this is true for all nudes and erotica in art history, every period has its Jeff Koons. I just want to point out that great erotic art says resonates with humanity, and poor art like the above distorts and hollows it, and says absolutely nothing of any real meaning.
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