I even knew that the four-story-high structure was meant to represent a toy that had half the head of a rocking horse and half the head of a dinosaur. But I hadn’t been able to make it to Koons’ show at the Whitney until September 10th, when I finally saw it with some friends who had come all the way from Minnesota.
$5.6 million in 2001 but would sell for much more after the death.
Last year the orange-tinted balloon dog sold for more than $58 million dollars, making it the highest price ever for a living artist.
I was aware that one room in the show was devoted to “Made in Heaven”-- giant-sized paintings of Koons having sex with his ex-wife, the Hungarian-Italian porn star Ilona Staller, known as “La Cicciolina”, who, when their brief marriage was over, took their son Ludwig back to Italy, where she has also served as a member of Parliament. A long and painful custody trial ensued and Koons’ bitterness at losing his son is often echoed in his art (or is it just a longing for Koons own boyhood?) Looking at his art, you realize the man, like Peter Pan, never grew up.
Roberta Smith called “a new, almost certain masterpiece whose sculptural enlargement of a rainbow pile of radiant chunks captures exactly the matte textures of the real thing, but also evokes paint, dessert and psychedelic poop.”
He worked on it for 20 years! Mr. Koons, says the NYT critic, “spends much money and often ends up inventing new techniques to get exactly what he wants in both his sculptures and his paintings, which are made by scores of highly skilled artists whom he closely supervises.”
It was recently announced that, because the Koons retrospective at the Whitney is so popular—more than 250,000 people have seen it, making it among the highest attended shows in the museum’s history—that the director of the Whitney has decided to stage a 36-hour marathon, keeping the Whitney open from 11 a.m. Saturday, October 18 through 11 pm. Sunday Oct. 19.
If you’re anywhere near Manhattan, I suggest you go to the Whitney marathon and buy a copy of the catalog. There will be special activities, the bookstore and restaurant will stay open all night and, according to The Times, the director "confided that Mr. Koons may make an appearance in the dead of night and be on hand to sign catalogs.” (Maybe someday his signed catalogs will go for big money like his art!)
But if you can’t make it to the marathon, here are some scenes of what you missed—New Yorkers and art lovers interacting with and trying to figure out Jeff Koons’ very expensive art.