Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery just opened ‘Now’, a solo exhibition of work by American artist Jeff Koons (b.1955). While the Parisian institution Centre Pompidou dedicated a major retrospective to the the artist in 2015 in Paris (covered), ‘Now’ is the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to Koons since the Serpentine Gallery’s 2009 show, ‘Jeff Koons: Popeye Series’.
Spanning thirty-five years of the artist’s career, the exhibition features thirty-six paintings, works on paper and sculptures dating from 1979 to 2014. Drawn from Damien Hirst’s collection, a number of these works have never before been shown in the UK.
The Gallery 1 features early works from Jeff Koons like the Inflatable Flowers (1979) , the NEW (1980 -1986) with vacuum cleaners sculptures.
The Gallery 2 features a shiny giant Balloon Monkey (2006-2013) in a mirror polished stainless steel with transparent blue colour coating. ‘ It constantly reminds viewers of their existence, it’s all about you. When you leave the room, it’s gone.’ The monumental sculpture evoques of sensuality with its seductive polished finish and phallic tail.
The next gallery hosts some of the erotic works from “Made in Heaven’ , from monumental sculpture of a Bowl with Eggs to large portraits of Jeff Koons and his then wife Ilona Staller.
The Gallery 4 contains iconic works from the basketsballs floating in a glass tank (1985) to works from his series ‘ Luxury and Degradation’ with Jim Bean- JB Turner Train (1986) in stainless steel and the bust of Italian Woman (1986).
From the ‘Popeye’ series, inflatable pool toys that interact with ready made objects are designed to fool the eyes. Looking like vinyl, they are cast in aluminium and meticulously painted to appear exactly like the real thing.
The last gallery features Jeff Koons’s ongoing Celebration’ series from 1994 to 2014. The illusory Elephant (2003) and Titi (2004 -2009) appear to be fragile, air -filled inflatables, but are cast in heavy-weight stainless steel that mirrors the viewers. The most technically challenging work of his career Play Doh (1994-2014) faithfully reproduces (in an enormous size) a small lump of modelling clay fashioned by his son. The twenty seven individual pieces are cast in aluminium and held together with their own weight.
View the full set of pics here
The BBC just conducted an interview with both Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst
Jeff Koons – NOW
Until 15 Oct 2016
Newport Street Gallery