Art21 Extended Play

Jeff Koons: Money & Value


Episode #098: Artist Jeff Koons discusses themes of money, desire, perfection, and moral responsibility. Filmed in his busy New York studio and surrounded by numerous assistants at work on paintings and sculptures, Koons describes how the practicalities of running a business are often in service to creative ends.

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 the curator of two exhibitions currently on view in New York: the group show Skin Fruit at the New Museum (through June 6th, 2010) and a survey of the work of Ed Paschke (a mentor of Koons) at Gagosian Gallery (980 Madison Avenue, through April 24th, 2010).

Jeff Koons is featured in the Season 5 (2005) episode Fantasy of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch the full episode online via iTunes (opens application).

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Brian Hwang, Clair Popkin & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Mark Mandler. Editor: Paulo Padilha. Artwork Courtesy: Jeff Koons.