Jeff Koons At The Whitney
Written by: Efrem Zelony-Mindell

First of all I love the Whitney, if for no other reason, because I still have an SVA sticker so not only do I get to cut the line, I get in for free. I don’t have much guilt about that.  I don’t feel I’m pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes, I think it should be like that for everyone. Government doesn’t fund museums anymore etc. etc.  

I digress. 

“Koons’ work is about … early sexuality, overcoming insecurity and being yourself …”

I treat the Whitney the same way I treat the Guggenheim, take the elevator to the top so that way the building does all the work for me when I am coming down. Curatorialy (this isn’t a word I realize) it’s often a nightmare since you are supposed to view the work in chronological order.

Jeff Koons’ work certainly stands on its own whether you’re looking at it backwards or forwards; it’s all a circus, a zoo!  What a magnificent bastard that man is, I have great admiration for him and his work. The show is so good that if you stop to take the time to listen and look at the other museum goers, it’s like having TWO shows. “Is that it?” “I’m not sure I see it.” “This is ridiculous.” I want to stop every museum goer and say, “Well, you paid to be here, didn’t you know what you were getting yourself into?” How I wish people would take more time to converse with a piece of art and give themselves over. There’s nothing to be afraid of, especially at a Jeff Koons show, I mean it’s an inflatable lobster for Christ sake!  What are you so afraid of?

Jeff Koons has such a clear vision of what he wants and how he executes work. It comes through so clearly in the work. His falter is he has such a large number of people making anything he wants, often the “good” work is very apparent from the “bad” work. Many things in the show are just the tip of his little finger, and they fall somewhat flat. But there are pieces in the show that are of such high caliber they shine through. Koons’ work is so much about childhood and an early sexuality, overcoming insecurity and being yourself. It certainly makes sense to me that he would create a sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles, as he embodies that early sense of wonderment – wanting to stay curious and inventive, novel and experimental.

Koons stimulates a very modern sense of culture while reaching back and addressing art history. He’s not just painting pieces of cake, he is joining a conversation with Georgia O’Keeffe and when he creates a metallic reflective bunny he’s addressing the Venus of Willendorf. This is a rich cultural history that spans bigger than one man or one nation. Koons is addressing the vocabulary of art. Aside from the aesthetic and philosophical aspects of the works on their own.

JEFF KOONS: A RETROSPECTIVE is showing at The Whitney Museum till October 19, 2014. 

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