Jeff Koons: stainless and shiny

About Jeff Koons, an essential figure on the contemporary cultural scene, it would suffice to say: he was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, lives in New York, and is really famous. However, we dwell further on his work thanks to two initiatives that celebrate his history.

The first is a major exhibition dedicated to him (from 2 October to 30 January 2022) by Palazzo Strozzi, in Florence, the city that did not have the ability to accept (not so long ago) the donation of a gigantic work of Koons because the binding request was that of the place where it was to be placed, that is, near Piazza della Signoria (and in this sense it must be said that Paris was more astute in the negotiation for the definitive location of the “Bouquet of Flowers”).

Jeff Koons is unquestionably one of the most important figures of contemporary art globally and at the same time it must be said that every gesture, work or statement by him often moves the waters of the murky silence in which modernity wallows.

Curated by Arturo Galansino and Joachim Pissarro, the exhibition brings to Florence a selection of the most famous works of this artist who, from the 1980s to today, has revolutionized the international art system, channeling non-media attention to his work. In this sense, his own artistic “laboratory”, where teams of assistants work on the realization of the exhibitions and then on their assembly, is a sign of affirmation that obviously besides finding similar examples in medieval workshops, in the contemporary age sees possible comparisons only in those artists who manage to compete on a global stage, such as Damien Hirst and Marina Abramović.

Developed in close dialogue with the artist, the Florentine exhibition (Jeff Koons. Shine) hosts artworks from the most important collections and major international museums, proposing the concept of “shine”(brilliance) understood as an element of ambiguity between splendor and glow, being and appearing.

Author of works that have entered the collective imagination thanks to the ability to combine high and popular culture, from refined references to art history to citations from the world of consumerism, Jeff Koons finds in the idea of ​​”shine” a key principle of his innovative sculptures and installations that aim to question our relationship with reality but also the concept of a work of art. The works of the American artist place the viewer in front of a mirror in which to reflect and place him at the center of the environment that surrounds him. As Koons himself states: “The artist’s work consists of a gesture with the aim of showing people what their potential is. It is not about creating an object or an image; everything happens in the relationship with the viewer. This is where art happens”.

The exhibition is promoted and organized by the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation, with the support of the Municipality of Florence, the Tuscany Region, the Florence Chamber of Commerce, the CR Firenze Foundation, the Palazzo Strozzi Partners Committee; main partner Intesa Sanpaolo.

The second appointment (shortly after) is with Jeff Koons: Lost in America: a beautiful exhibition and a beautiful book / catalog published by Skira. The book summarizes about sixty works, even touching his most recent productions, and is built with a long dialogue between the author and the critic Massimiliano Gioni, to be then also supported by cards and testimonies by Dodie Kazanjian and Sophia Al Maria.

The volume (60.00 euros, 248 pp, 22.5 x 28.5 cm, hardcover, with texts in English, Skira editore, serves as a support for the major exhibition in Doha (Al Riwaq Gallery, Doha, Qatar), curated by Massimiliano Gioni with the collaboration of Madeline Weisburg and Ivana Dizdar.

Original materials, personal memories and biographical narratives make this publication indispensable to be able to read Koons’ work, who must be considered in all respects a star of the contemporary art system, a star whose proposals are always of great aesthetic involvement.

Bruno Purek


Jeff Koons, Shine
02/10/2021 – 30/01/2022
Palazzo Strozzi
piazza Strozzi, Firenze
tel: +39 055 2645155

Jeff Koons, Lost in America
20/11/2021 – 30/03/2022
Qatar Museum Gallery Al Riwaq
QM Torre
Doha – Stato del Qatar
tel: + 974 4402 8888 I

Jeff Koons, String of puppies, 1988, legno policromo, 106,7 x 157,5 x 94 cm, AP from an edition of 3 plus 1 AP. Private Collection, courtesy Hauser & WirthJeff Koons, String of puppies, 1988, polychrome wood, 106,7 x 157,5 x 94 cm, AP from an edition of 3 plus 1 AP. Private Collection, courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994-2014, polychrome aluminum, 315 x 386,7 x 348 cm, one of five unique versions. Private Collection

Jeff Koons, Balloon Venus (Orange), 2008-2012, mirror polished stainless steel with clear color coating, 259,1 x 121,9 x 127 cm, one of five unique versions. Collection of the artist


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