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Koons Vanquished by Daylight?

April 23, 2008
Librado Romero/The New York Times
A balloon dog. A chocolate heart wrapped in shiny red. A silhouette of Piglet from a “Winnie the Pooh” coloring book. These are the subjects of three glossily lacquered, stainless steel works — all previously unexhibited — by the Pop artist Jeff Koons now on view in the Cantor Roof Garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.– photo and text via NYTimes

This article by Ken Johnson on the NYTimes was interesting:

A Panoramic Backdrop for Meaning and Mischief

I thought this article, perhaps inadvertently, embodied two schools of thought on the work of Jeff Koons. In one paragraph Johnson describes the work of Koons in the highest terms. Using the titular phrase “mischievously meaningful” to describe the group he says of them:

“With its pneumatic, sausagelike parts, “Balloon Dog (Yellow)” is a sly Trojan Horse: it seems innocent but is loaded with aesthetic and erotic perversity. “Sacred Heart (Red/Gold)” acidly comments on the commercial debasement of emotional and religious experience. “Coloring Book” reflects the youth-obsessed infantilism of modern culture and society.”

However, immediately following he says:

“But placed on the architecturally nondescript patio, where there are also shaded areas for patrons of the Roof Garden Cafe, the sculptures too easily turn into benign, decorative accessories.”

Which is exactly what some of the misgivings about Koons work are. That they can cease being eternal, as the artist puts it, and become simply objets-d’art, easy fun. And apparently this is easily accomplished by taking them out of a gallery setting and bringing them into the light of day, which is kind of funny when you think about it.

Which begs the question, can Koons only do it in the gallery?

I thought the sculptures looked good out on the roof, but then I haven’t seen them in person. In May the Museum of Contemporary Art will be hosting a large Jeff Koons exhibit and perhaps something will be outside. It would be interesting to see the work in the sanctity of the white cube and outside, where this value-subtracting weather phenomena could be observed. I would like an answer to my question.

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