Must See Art: Jeff Koons Retrospective at The Whitney Museum

Jeff Koons Retrospective Signage
Jeff Koons Retrospective Signage Depicting Michael Jackson and Bubbles Sculpture from the Banality Series (All Photos By Gail)

It is no secret that Jeff Koons is one of my most-loved artists. A lot of haters take issue with the fact that Koons is so rich and successful, like that is a bad, thing. I say, if a billionaire wants to pay $58 million dollars for one of his Balloon Dog sculptures, good for him. Good for everybody! If I had $58 Million to blow on some rad artwork, I would do the same thing. Jeff Koons!

Jeff Koons is currently the subject of a retrospective at The Whitney Museum, surveying the full scope of his career, and it is a must see show. Comprised of almost 150 objects dating from 1978 to the present, this exhibition is the most comprehensive ever devoted to Koons’ Artwork, his first major museum presentation in New York, and the first to fill nearly the entire Marcel Breuer-designed Whitney building with a single artist’s work. The Koons Retrospective will also be the final exhibition to take place there before the Whitney opens its new building in the Meatpacking District in 2015 — but what a way to go!

Mail Box with Gazing Ball
Gazing Ball Series (2013)

The Koons Retrospective fills four floors of the building including the lobby, plus the lower level (adjacent to the restaurant) and the small outdoor “garden.” The work is organized chronologically with his newest work, which includes the Gazing Ball series that debuted at the David Zwirner Gallery last year, in a lobby adjacent gallery. Geoffrey and I started on the 4th floor and worked our way down.

Non-flash photography is allowed (thank god) and I took about 100 photos. Here are some highlights from the show!

Inflatable Flowers
Inflatable Flowers

The Inflatables Series (1978–79) features works that look like weightless, air-filled plastic flowers, though the works are made of stainless Steel.

Light Mounted Toaster
Toaster Mounted on Lit Base

Pre-New (1979–80) includes a series of small, counter top kitchen appliances mounted on deco-style lit bases.

Red Telephone
Red Telephone, Pre-New Series

I never thought I would live in an era where some people will neither know how the above object is used, nor understand the significance of its red color.

Vacuum Cleaners
Vacuum Cleaners, New Series

The News Series (1980–87) features billboard-sized product adverts as well as a large collection of sculptures comprised of early model vacuum cleaners encased in vitrines lit by fluorescent tubing. The collection has been featured in canister vacuum reviews sites and articles. These works reminded me favorably of The Carousel of Progress attraction at Disneyland.

Vacuum Cleaner Gallery View
New Series Gallery View

Basketballs in a Tank
Three Basketballs in a Tank, Equilibrium Series (1983–93)

Frangelico Ad
Frangelico Ad, Luxury and Degradation Series (1986)

Baccarat Crystal Cocktail Set
Baccarat Crystal Cocktail Service Set, Luxury and Degradation Series

Mermaid Sculpture
Mermaid, Statuary Series (1986)

Bob Hope Statue
Bob Hope, Statuary Series

Banality Series Gallery
Banality Series (1988) Installation View

Surprised Bather
Surprised Bather, Banality Series

Gilded Mirror
Gilt Mirror, Banality Series

Made in Heaven Signage
Made in Heaven Series (1989–91)

Between 1989 and 1991, Koons and his then wife, Italian Porn star and Politician Cicciolina, posed for a series of sexually explicit artworks that became the Made in Heaven Series and Coffee Table Book. While Koons and Cicciolina are unbelievably hot and fun to look at, some of these photos show lots of Peen and Vajayjay, so you are going to want to keep any kids out of the galleries that are labeled “Sexually Explicit Material/Not for Children” or something similar.

Made in Heaven
Made In Heaven Series

Koons Bust with Crystals
Koons Bust with Crystals, Made in Heaven Series

Made in Heaven Amethyst Sculpture
Made In Heaven Series Amethyst Sculpture

Pink Cake
Pink Cake, Celebration Series (1994 Onward)

The Celebration Series gallery is probably my favorite in the entire exhibit.

Purple Heart
Purple Heart, Celebration Series

Giant Pile of Play Doh
Play-Doh with Balloon Dog in the Background, Celebration Series

Pink Button
Pink Button with Random Gallery Visitor, Included for Scale, Celebration Series

Purple Giraffe Mirror
Purple Giraffe Silhouette Mirror, Easyfun Series (1999–2000)

Mirror Reflected in a Mirror
Easyfun Series

Betty Page and Dolphin
Easyfun-Ethereal Series (2000–02)

Lunch Meat Faces with Mustache
Easyfun-Ethereal Series

Beach Chairs and Seals
Seal Walrus (Chairs) Sculpture (Foreground), Elvis (Background), Popeye Series (2002 Onward)

Inflatable Lobster
Lobster, Popeye Series

Hulk Organ
Hulk (Organ), Hulk Elvis Series (2004–14)

Yellow Mirrored Sculpture
Pluto and Proserpina, Antiquity Series (2013 Onward)

Balloon Venus
Balloon Venus (Orange), Antiquity Series

I know there are a ton of photos in this post, but consider that they represent only one tenth of what’s in the exhibit and you know you gotta go check this out! I’ll be going back at least once more. Helpful Hint to Avoid Crowds: Try to get to The Whitney by 12 Noon or earlier on a weekend. Although crowds are unpredictable, an early arrival made the difference between waiting on line just inside the lobby when we arrived versus a line that went outside and around the block by the time we left!

Jeff Koons: A Retrospective Will be on Exhibit Through October 19th, 2014, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Located at 945 Madison Avenue (at 75th Street) in NYC. The exhibition then travels to the Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (November 26, 2014–April 27, 2015) and to the Guggenheim Bilbao (June 5–September 27, 2015).

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3 thoughts on “Must See Art: Jeff Koons Retrospective at The Whitney Museum

  1. Pingback: Horse Head Vacuum Cleaner | The Worleygig

  2. Pingback: A Visit to The Broad Museum! | The Worleygig

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