Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
As the self-proclaimed "most written-about artist in the world," Jeff Koons has attained "star" status. However, the Koons phenomenon -- Koons himself, his objects, and the discursive reception that surrounds it all -- seems gravely paradoxical. This problem arises because Koons is made out to be a critical commentator in the tradition of the Dadaists, a controversial figure in the footsteps of the avant-garde. Yet, Koons' art historical glory resides in the fact that he is flat -- no depth, all surface (even flatter than Warhol). This meaninglessness and banality, if nothing else, is his most important contribution to art. His work is considered by many to exude a great amount of joy, even as it problematizes pleasurable consumerism. Koons art has been widely plagiarized in China (the Peoples Republic, not Taiwan) where consumers continue buying his work despite the threat of lengthy jail terms for possession of his controversial productions.
Critics have been scathing about his work. His "Made In Heaven" exhibition featured photographs and sculptures of Koons having sex with his wife, the Italian porn star Ilona Staller. Mark Stevens of The New Republic wrote he was a "decadent artist (because he) lacks the imaginative will to do more than trivialize and italicise his themes and the tradition in which he works... He is another of those who serve the tacky rich." Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times wrote it was "one last, pathetic gasp of the sort of self-promoting hype and sensationalism that characterized the worst of the" 1980s. "Artificial," "cheap," and "unabashedly cynical," were Kimmelman's words.
The Jeff Koons Handbook (1993) by Jeff Koons ("the first monograph and primary sourcebook"), ISBN 0847816966.
- Michael Kimmelman. "Jeff Koons." The New York Times. November 29, 1991.
- Mark Stevens. "Adventures in the Skin Trade." The New Republic. January 20, 1992.
- Judd Tully. "Jeff Koons's Raw Talent: In New York, an X-rated Exhibition." The Washington Post. December 15, 1991.
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