As you may know, the Whitney retrospective of Jeff Koons is the last exhibit to be mounted at the Breuer-designed, brutalist location. Next year, the new museum designed by Renzo Piano, will open at the beginning of the Highline in the Meatpacking District. (Yay! Just one block from my front door!) The first thing I noted when arriving last night on the 4th floor was the hushed tone. Normally, I’d expect a raucous opening night crowd but I think everyone was kind of in shock at seeing the GIGANTIC play-doh sculpture that so much has been written about. Reader’s Digest version of the story?; Collector Bill Bell agree to put up the considerable dough to make it nearly 20 years ago and he and his wife Maria saw it Wednesday night for the first time. It took THAT long to fabricate. It looks just like you’d imagine but it is made of stainless steel and it’s SO big, they had to remove the front doors of the museum to get it in. The pink mylar wall-mounted balloon (10 feet in diameter) was also a shocker to see as well as the kitty in a sock and the massive purple heart suspended from the ceiling. That room is a knockout.
I won’t take you through the whole exhibit, because it is some 35+ years of work but it dazzles from floor to floor. It was great to see sculptures that I saw when the were first shown in the 80s once again like the stainless steel bunny, the Pink Panther and the centerpiece of the Banality series, Michael Jackson and Bubbles. The Made in Heaven series which features Jeff inflagrato with his wife at the time, Italian porn star Cicciolina was less shocking that I remembered and were warned in the press, although there are full penetration reproductions in the catalogue, which DO NOT fail to stop one in their tracks. The latest additions were the Libery Bell which looks exactly like the Liberty Bell would (eh), the million pound black granite Popeye, a black granite “ashray girl” in the courtyard and a few others. Some were being completed up to this last weekend.
The show opens to the public today and is up through mid-October and although I didn’t make it there yet, the Split Rocker flowering live sculpture just made it’s debut in Rockefeller Center, right where – in six months – they’ll be lighting the Christmas Tree. If you aren’t in New York City, you can get the latest issue of Vanity Fair, to read all about it or go to select H&M shops to get the his Balloon Dog purse, while supplies last. (H & M was a major sponsor of the exhibit… so.) Well, I’ll tell you, this is as big as it gets for any artist, anytime in their career or anywhere in the world, for that matter. The sale of Mr. Koons Orange Balloon Dog at auction recently for $58+ million makes him top dog in sales among artists still drawing breath on the planet. And, at 59, you know he’s got another 25+ years to make even more outrageous work. Gotta keep those 128 employees busy – baby needs new (solid gold) shoes!