Art21 Extended Play

Jeff Koons: Art History

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Episode #112: Jeff Koons describes how he likes to “communicate with other artists” by making art historical references — from Classical to Modern — in his sculptures and paintings.

Jeff Koons plucks images and objects from popular culture, framing questions about taste and pleasure. His contextual sleight-of-hand, which transforms banal items into sumptuous icons, takes on a psychological dimension through dramatic shifts in scale, spectacularly engineered surfaces, and subliminal allegories of animals, humans, and anthropomorphized objects. The subject of art history is a constant undercurrent, whether Koons elevates kitsch to the level of Classical art, produces photos in the manner of Baroque paintings, or develops public works that borrow techniques and elements of seventeenth-century French garden design. Organizing his own studio production in a manner that rivals a Renaissance workshop, Koons makes computer-assisted, handcrafted works that communicate through their meticulous attention to detail.

Jeff Koons is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Fantasy of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Download-to-own the full episode from iTunes.

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Kurt Branstetter & 
Joel Shapiro. Sound: Mark Mandler. Editor: Paulo Padilha & Mark Sutton. Artwork Courtesy: Jeff Koons. Special Thanks: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.


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