jeff koons is not a poet. he is an advocator and critic of the american dream. koons paints in bubblegum hues, glass blows, buys tacky-fabulous inflatable bunnies at discount stores in the east village. and it is in his whimsical criticisms of the sociopolitical racism of the alleged “american dream” that he manages to create poetry.
koons was born in York, Pennsylvania. he was born in 1955 (he’s still alive!), and is living in chelsea (quelle suprise!) in a large studio apartment.
koons began by working as a membership desk assistant at the museum of modern art in new york; a modern dali with vibrant red hair and a carefully curated pencil mustache. after a brief but successful wall street stint, koons retreated to his artistic, angst-ridden sensibilities and considered a massive studio (think a more low-key 54!). koons bought a huge place on the corner of broadway and houston, big enough to entertain, house assistants (to whom he taught a color by number sort of method so that they could help him complete such the grand volume of works that he did), and to of course create his own seminal designs.
jeff koons work evokes both a stunning juxtapose of 17th century Rococo (think pastel, Fragonard lusciousness) with the post modern playfulness of artists like Marcel Duchamp (the guy who painted R. Mutt on a urinal and got famous for it). koons manages to reproduce minimalism from fantastic banalities while still conveying images that critique the 1970s socioeconomic/sociopolitical standing of the USA (for example, a series of liquor ads remastered by koons distinguish borderline racist agendas in america).
i saw koons’ pieces for the first time in the flesh at the gorgeous georges pompidou centre in paris. knowing rather little about the artist himself, i was downright astounded by his dichotomy of pneumatic and flat textures, varied mediums, and out-of this-world hue selections. my favorite collections were the inflatables (not daring to call it kitsch, mon dieu!), a set of neon bunnies and flowers set against mirrors. for self-obsessed millennials like me, i found these pristine toys to draw me into a fantastic plastic time capsule where i could see my own, 20-year-old face reflected back at me from behind orange, purple, and pink inflatables.
i also adored the more erotic “made in heaven series (XXX)” collection. commissioned by a curator at the whitney (in new york) in 1989 to create a billlboard. koons made the project his own and incorporated his magical porn star platinum wife, cicciolina, into a series of highly pigmented pieces represented in a plethora of mediums. think penetrative photographs, glass blown demonstrations of koons performing cunnilingus on his wife in stunning shades of violet, and a variety of billboard-sized, pretty as a princess pornography. i was reminded of both a katy perry music video, complete with a brilliant sense of romance, and of a larger-than-life kama sutra.
my respect and admiration for koons’ dichotomy of both playfulness and commentary on the american dream, will forever go unremembered. the new whitney museum is opening on may 1, 2015 on 99 Gansevoort street, so next time you’re in the meatpacking district, be sure to check out some of koons’ borderline kawaii, fantastically kinky pieces, and i gurantee that you will find verbosity where there is none!