Throughout his career Koons has made art that refers to the everyday world around him. With eyes wide open and embracing all of American culture as he looks for inspiration in today's consumer world, he has appropriated everything from advertisements and vacuum cleaners to cartoon characters, collectibles, and plastic toys. His work owes a debt to Marcel Duchamp's Readymades, which place decidedly nonartistic objects in an aesthetic context, and to Andy Warhol. Koons has often stated that he wishes his art to communicate with as broad an audience as possible. His work explores contemporary obsessions with sexuality and desire; race and gender; and celebrity, commerce, and the media. His choice of objects and images forcefully addresses the impact of class, power, materialism, and consumerism in contemporary life.
The three sculptures featured on the Roof Garden are from the Celebration series, which Koons began working on in 1993. Balloon Dog (Yellow) is based on balloons twisted into the shape of a toy dog. Standing more than ten feet tall, its highly reflective and brightly colored surface gives the appearance of an actual balloon in a form that would delight a child but would also fascinate any student of Freud. A page from a Winnie the Pooh coloring book featuring Pooh's companion Piglet was the genesis of Coloring Book. Koons took a magic marker to the page and colored in various zones; in the fabrication of the sculpture, he removed Piglet from the composition, which resulted in this abstraction rendered in cheerful pastel colors. Sacred Heart (Red/Gold), with its sumptuous surfaces of wrapping and ribbon, may suggest childhood—as well as adult—dreams and fantasies about candy and luxury goods, intermixed with the potent Roman Catholic image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a group, the three colorful Pop sculptures are characteristic of the artist's work over the years, offering a certain jouissance and jubilant spirit and demonstrating extraordinary technical virtuosity in the rendering of large perfected forms on a huge scale.
The exhibition is made possible by Bloomberg.
Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.