"Imagine the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art as the perfect storm. And at the center of the perfect storm there is a perfect vacuum. The storm is everything going on around Jeff Koons: the multimillion-dollar auction prices, the blue chip dealers, the hyperbolic claims of the critics, the adulation and the controversy and the public that quite naturally wants to know what all the fuss is about. The vacuum is the work itself, displayed on five of the six floors of the Whitney, a succession of pop culture trophies so emotionally dead that museumgoers appear a little dazed as they dutifully take out their iPhones and produce their selfies. …
… And in Koonsland, if transcendence doesn’t work, there is always shopping. The clothing chain H&M, a sponsor of the Whitney show, has just come out with a handbag bearing Balloon Dog’s image, priced at $49.50; it was unveiled along with the new flagship H&M on Fifth Avenue and 48th Street, the store’s façade emblazoned with giant images of Balloon Dog.Just north at Rockefeller Center, Koons is letting the summer tourists get a gander at the latest of his topiary concoctions, a work called Split/Rocker, with the combined half-heads of a horse and a dinosaur covered with real flowering plants. A nearby bar is offering a Koons cocktail, the “Split/Rock Margarita.”
To evaluate this onslaught can feel hopeless, if not downright absurd, as if one were some Judge Judy of the art world, examining a situation so incredible that the very act of judgment calls one’s credibility (and credulity) into question.
Koons is a recycler and regurgitator of the obvious, which he proceeds to aggrandize in the most obvious way imaginable, by producing oversized versions of cheap stuff in extremely expensive materials. …The Koons retrospective is a multimillion-dollar vacuum, but it is also a multimillion-dollar mausoleum in which everything that was ever lively and challenging about avant-gardism and Dada and Duchamp has gone to die. …
… The essential fact about the Koons cult, however, is not that Koons invented it, but that it has gained such extraordinary traction, in the art world and well beyond. Day after day, the crowds are lining up outside the Whitney, waiting to get in to see the Jeff Koons show. What are they to make of the tens of millions of dollars that have been squandered on this work? What are they to make of the critics and historians who are defending Koons with a belligerence that allows for no debate? And what are they to make of the Whitney Museum of American Art?
That Koons will be Koons is his own business. That he has had his way with the art world is everybody’s business. No wonder the people in the galleries at the Whitney look a little dazed. The Koons cult has triumphed. For his next project Koons should consider manufacturing a ten-foot-high polychromed aluminum Kool-Aid container. It could come right after Play-Doh in the “Celebration” series.” full text
Jeff Koons, American, ( York Pa., 1955 - )
Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988
Porcelain, 42 x 70 ½ x 32 ½ in. (106.68 cm x 179.07 cm x 82.55 cm)
One of three, part of the Banality Series.
San Francisco, SFMOMA, Inv 91.1 Image, NYRB