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Jeff Koons (born 1955)

Lucy Askew, Managing Curator – ARTIST ROOMS, and Matthew Gale, Head of Displays at Tate Modern, discuss works by Jeff Koons, a number of which form part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection jointly owned by National Galleries of Scotland and Tate.

[Duration 3:58]


Through his early use of everyday items such as vacuum cleaners and basketballs and later by creating oversized kitsch objects, Jeff Koons reflects upon the power of consumer industries and the aesthetics and culture of taste.

Koons has made use of the kind of references reminiscent of Pop Art in its use of popular imagery and in his means of production, with multiple assistants working with him in the studio. He demands total perfection from specialists in each chosen medium and his work is manufactured with extraordinary precision.

Drawing together a range of styles and spanning a broad chronology from early 1980s to the late 1990s, the works in ARTIST ROOMS highlight some of the artist’s most important series. In New Hoover Convertibles Koons preserves a banal, household object as a new commodity in perpetuity making its function obsolete within a contained vitrine. The idea of protected perfection is at the heart of Encased, from the artist’s famous series of basketball works, in which he sought to achieve constant equilibrium by suspending the balls in liquid. Winter Bears was first shown in Koons’s landmark exhibition Banality in 1988. The carved wooden figures derive from popular figurines, blown up to great proportions to create a sculpture that is at once familiar yet grotesque.

Koons’s fascination with kitsch and Baroque styles is also found in Mound of Flowers and the Bourgeois Bust, a marble sculpture which depicts the artist and his wife, Ilona. This portrait bust is part of a larger body of work in which Koons and Ilona starred in their own erotic romance, documented through a series of sculpture and photographic works. The billboard Made in Heaven and the Art Magazine Ads use standard advertising methods and were made to publicise the project.

See our Jeff Koons learning resource for more on the artist's work.