"the mainstreaming of Dadaism"
October 14, 2014 10:24 PM   Subscribe

 
I blame Daniel Pinkwater and young adult novel for brining dadaism to the masses (or at least to me).

(Is it a dadaist joke for this link to take me to a short history of cattle ranches? If so, my hat goes off to you. If it is an error, I suggest you sign it and claim it as art!)
posted by chapps at 10:33 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also I like the poodle very much.
posted by chapps at 10:33 PM on October 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


&poodle; &pocketwatch; ?

&ziggurat; &elephants;
posted by boo_radley at 10:39 PM on October 14, 2014


:D Perfect emoji.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:39 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry re Texas link comment... Either that was resolved or I had some weird error on my end, but now it works and the article is excellent!
posted by chapps at 10:47 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Texas ranch link was copy-paste fail while doing two things at once, like a giant metal clown making a giant metal balloon poodle, sorry.)
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:50 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not into Koons at all but hey, it's a big important show and the grand finale of the uptown Whitney. I never saw so much of Koons work in one place at one time so it was great to take it all in and figure out how I felt. I came away firmly convinced that I don't like most of his work but seriously, Play-Doh is really stellar and even the Balloon Dog is great up close. A must see NY show, love or hate him.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:12 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


This piece is a surrender to Koons. I'll bite, seems like his real art is marketing, which is as representative of the culture as you can get right now. Friggin' genius this guy.
posted by telstar at 11:25 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


If I had the wherewithal, I'd make a detailed, brightly-colored, 10' x 4' steel sculpture of a popped 260 balloon.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:27 PM on October 14, 2014


By pure random chance, I managed to visit Versailles when a few Koons pieces were on display. I don't think there could be a more perfect public venue for his work.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:28 PM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Boy, my mind is just not big enough to see the connection between Ubu Roi and Koons, I guess.
posted by msalt at 11:32 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would have hoped that by now everybody agreed that not all unease is equal. Why should we imagine that because once upon a time certain gallerygoers were troubled by something that they later came to admire, then it follows that anything that troubles a gallerygoer is necessarily worthy of admiration?
Sometimes I feel the trick is just to let go, and not worry about what it means, and let it be awesome. I find this is how I enjoy Reggie Watts,an example I think of as he was on CBC radio today
.. It sort of makes sense, but not always, maybe if I analyse it I could figure it a out, but maybe that would ruin it and really if I just let go and experience it, then it is awesome.... This is how I feel about what dadaism I have learned about... It makes me laugh, it is absurd, and it speaks to me somehow... But maybe this is through the lens of those telling me about it, putting it in context.

But sometimes art doesn't connect. Maybe it is connecting with others and that is OK? Do we need a consensus? Are those enjoying koons lying to themselves and others or do they find something that connects, something I don't see?
posted by chapps at 11:46 PM on October 14, 2014


chapps: "Do we need a consensus? Are those enjoying koons lying to themselves and others or do they find something that connects, something I don't see?"

There is a large subset of art lovers who believe that because you can make objective statements about art, that means art is itself objective, and you can therefore even make objective statements about whether a particular piece of art is good or not. Of course, for some reason, these objective decisions about the quality of art always line up perfectly with their own tastes.

So art objectivists who like Koons, for example, will conclude that people who dislike Koons are missing something, or are lying to themselves, or are uncultured, or are uneducated, or the like. And art objectivists who dislike Koons will conclude that people who like Koons are missing something, or are lying to themselves, or are uncultured, or are uneducated, or the like.

No, we don't need a consensus. If you like Koons, great. If you hate Koons, great. Neither of those positions mean that people who disagree with you are wrong.
posted by Bugbread at 11:56 PM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Call me ignorant. Call me naive.

But I just cannot get behind artists that have others do the work. Seems like a swindle.

And yes, I know it's been going on since time immemorial, but art (to me) is more than conception.
posted by tunewell at 1:14 AM on October 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


I saw the show at the Whitney. I love Calder, Rothko, Johns, even. I just couldn't appreciate the Koons show. I couldn't stop myself from thinking, "you could be at the Frick right now instead."

But I got it enough to see how others of decent taste might be into it. So there was that.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:54 AM on October 15, 2014


I tried to submit an entry to TL;DR Wikipedia: “Jeff Koons manufactures tchotchkes that are traded by drug traffickers to launder their profits.” It wasn’t accepted.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:34 AM on October 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Someone once explained the idea of humour density in sitcoms. There can be a number of jokes/funny things in a single scene. Someone laughs at the actual dialogue, someone gets the reference on the character's t-shirt, someone laughs at the poster on the wall in the background and so on. Not everyone gets everything. Not everyone laughs at everything they get. But a popular sitcom will have a high humour density to make different audiences laugh at different things in the same scene. And, of course, comedy is art.

I think the same is true of all art forms. Different people connect with different aspects of a single piece of art. Some people may not connect at all. And that's ok too. If you don't like it, there is plenty of other art in a wide range of art forms. May be you'll find something else that speaks to you. Keep looking.
posted by vivekspace at 5:03 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I never saw Koons as purely Dada, due to the heavy pop attitude in his work. I mean, the Michael Jackson and Bubbles statue is, in my eyes, more of a direct descendant of Warhol's Marilyn and Mao silkscreens.

My general approach to Koons, though, is through humor. I just find a lot of his stuff...funny. Especially the colossal pieces.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:10 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


From the article:

The sculptures and paintings of this fifty-nine-year-old artist are so meticulously, mechanically polished and groomed that they rebuff any attempt to look at them, much less feel anything about them.

Four paragraphs later:

Koons knows how to capitalize on the guilty pleasure that the museumgoing public takes in all his mixed messages. He knows how to leave people feeling simultaneously ironical, erudite, silly, sophisticated, and bemused.

That's a lot of feelings about an artist it's impossible to feel anything about. Or maybe Perl thinks those feelings don't count as feelings it's worthwhile to have about art. But I think he's wrong about that. Especially about "silly."
posted by escabeche at 5:39 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


But I just cannot get behind artists that have others do the work. Seems like a swindle.

Not a movie fan, then.
posted by oulipian at 5:43 AM on October 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


Also...Part of what I think confuses/frustrates people about artists like Koons is this ingrained cultural belief that art has to "mean" something. I tell people that you don't really have to "get" or "understand" anything to enjoy the art. Discard the critics and the artist's statements and just take the piece in on your own terms. I mean...How can you not like looking at a big shiny balloon dog? It's fun!

And, for god's sake, ignore the prices. You weren't really going to buy a 15-foot balloon dog, were you? No? Then forget the price. Just ignore the art world masturbatory bs.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:52 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


oulipian: "Not a movie fan, then."

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, especially about those movies which are referred to using the "Foo Bar's Movie Name" pattern (like "John Carpenter's They Live").
posted by Bugbread at 5:54 AM on October 15, 2014


I blame Daniel Pinkwater and young adult novel for brining dadaism to the masses (or at least to me).

You can have my copy of "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death" when you pry it from my hands after tying me to a chair and forcing me to watch German comedies.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:57 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


But I just cannot get behind artists that have others do the work. Seems like a swindle.

Not a movie fan, then.


...composers, choreographers, playwrights, architects, etc.
posted by Foosnark at 6:13 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not a movie fan, then.

...composers, choreographers, playwrights, architects, etc.


Point taken, however - difference is, as interpretive/performance arts, those forms (usually) must involve other people, who bring other skills.

Painting and sculpture - not so much. Not fundamentally an interpretive art, that is to say. I mean, there's a big difference between the Mona Lisa as painted by Leonardo and by Rick Meyerowitz.

Taking it a step further, if I commission an architect to do a house and give him a back-of-the-envelope idea of what I want, does that make me an artist?

The fact that Koons began in finance is always at the back of my mind. Lot of snark in the blue over Thomas Kincaid paintings because they are so vulgar even though (possibly because) they make millions smile and made him a rich man. Koons does the same thing, just at a higher price point. I can't say that either of them exalts my soul.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:29 AM on October 15, 2014


If you like Koons, great. If you hate Koons, great.

I want to say that it's possible, maybe valuable, maybe even necessary to say more about art than merely like/dislike because that way lies silence, but at the same time it seems obvious to me that our responses to that art are very situational. A work or works that seem vapid or inarticulate in one context (or at one time) might be delightful or maybe even profound in another. That it's also possible to like individual works, to think they "succeed" on some aesthetic level, dislike others, and still think that the career fails to be more than the sum of its parts also seems obvious to me.

Which is where I am with Koons, mostly. His best pieces are funny, sly, adorable. His worst are dull and a little monomaniacal, like a bore at a party.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:38 AM on October 15, 2014


octobersurprise: "I want to say that it's possible, maybe valuable, maybe even necessary to say more about art than merely like/dislike"

I'm not saying that all you can say about quality is like/dislike. You can say a lot. You can write entire papers on single paintings. But when it comes down to the specific question "is this piece of art good?", that question cannot be objectively answered. And a lot of discussions of people like Koons start with framing like "Koons is objectively good. Some people disagree. What is wrong, then, with those people?" or "Koons is objectively bad. Some people disagree. What is wrong, then, with those people?" Those are the kind of fruitless discussions I'm saying are a waste, not...well, not all of the other myriad discussions one can have about art, or an artist, or a piece of art.
posted by Bugbread at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2014


But when it comes down to the specific question "is this piece of art good?", that question cannot be objectively answered.

Asked that way, well, no, of course not. "Good for what?" the response should be.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:50 AM on October 15, 2014


Not a movie fan, then.

At least everybody who contributes to a movie gets their names in the credits.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:51 AM on October 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Koons, simply put, is Duchamp with lots of ostentatious trimmings."

No. No. No. Koons is not Duchamp.

Date: 1999
Locale: Art History 101
Scene: Instructor has produced side-by-side slides of a medieval reliquary and Koons' piece that consists of four vacuum cleaners in a plexiglass case.
Instructor: "What's the difference between these two works?"
Me: "One sucks, and the other one doesn't."

I was quite pleased with myself that day.
posted by crazylegs at 6:59 AM on October 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


I saw the early nineties Koons exhibit with the photos of him having sex. (And I saw it with my parents, for which we all should have received a medal.) It was way too much Koons at one time. I also saw the Fluxus exhibit around the same time. Either the Fluxus exhibit contained a bunch of Yoko Ono's Fluxus work exhibited all together or there was another exhibit of that shortly thereafter, I don't quite remember.

I end up feeling like Koons reinscribes the values he purports to comment on/critique, especially a sort of gross commercial masculinity.

The Fluxus exhibit - where Fluxus really does derive from Dada, readymades, the Letteristes, etc - was so much more appealing and interesting to me. Smaller, more modest, able to envision dissent and an outside, thinky rather than "think about how this repels thought". I feel like the Fluxus artists really did transgress, whereas Koons is sort of living on this reification of transgression. With Koons there's really no outside anymore, and I don't want to live in that kind of world.

(I was very surprised at how much I liked the Yoko Ono stuff, too, because that was definitely at a time when the whole "fake artist who broke up the Beatles" narrative was really strong.)
posted by Frowner at 7:03 AM on October 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


And furthermore.

"I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste."
- Marcel Duchamp
posted by crazylegs at 7:03 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


By chance or by some strange order of the universe, I was in a toy store yesterday in which they had on offer small colorful replicas of Balloon Dog, with no apparent irony or even awareness. It looks like I'll have to return and buy one. I came this ---><---- close to doing so yesterday and now I regret it even more than I expected ha
posted by janey47 at 7:10 AM on October 15, 2014


Part of what I think confuses/frustrates people about artists like Koons is this ingrained cultural belief that art has to "mean" something.

When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden's green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: "It's pretty, but is it Art?"

- Kipling
posted by The Bellman at 7:10 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Too many column inches have been wasted on his stint in the early 1980s as a commodities broker on Wall Street and on his powers of persuasion when it comes to pushing art dealers to bankroll the extraordinary production costs involved with his work. Why should we care about any of this? When was it that the art of the deal became the only kind of art that art people want to talk about?

It appears that the author thinks those two questions have something to do with one another.

That's interesting.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:29 AM on October 15, 2014


I end up feeling like Koons reinscribes the values he purports to comment on/critique, especially a sort of gross commercial masculinity.

This has always been pretty much the point of much of what Koons does as an artist, right? There's Hughes' great line—which I find myself repeating whenever I think of Koons—"Koons really does think he's Michelangelo and is not shy to say so."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:33 AM on October 15, 2014


I end up feeling like Koons reinscribes the values he purports to comment on/critique, especially a sort of gross commercial masculinity.

Hm. I'm pretty sure Koons has explicity avoided critiquing social or aesthetic "values." (I think this is one of the reasons some in the official art scene hate him.) It seems to me he gleefully works/plays within a wealthy milieu ripe for the financial picking, and unashamedly gets away with whatever he can, pushing the art world's boundaries as he goes. What he does -- his re-placement of commonplace items into high-art settings, the re-creation of nostalgic items at unusual sizes or from unusual materials, the depiction of celebrity figures in over-blown sentimental styles, and the production of high-art items using industrial techniques -- these all shed a different light on concepts like high art, industrial processes, kitsch, children's toys, pornography, and pop icons, for those who like to think about those things, without the artist offering a specific or coherent criticism of social or aesthetic values. Sometimes I think he's simply a very wealthy example of a "naive artist."

So I went to the Chihuly glass museum in Seattle recently, and occasionally you also hear people mutter discontentedly about the fact that so much of Chihuly's amazingly complex glasswork is finished, manufactured and assembled by minions, not by the artist himself. Fewer people are willing to say that Chihuly glass pieces are not art, however, because what the heck else could it be?
posted by aught at 7:36 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


In other art news, I have become a Zimbalist painter.


No, not a Symbolist painter- I only paint portraits of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:49 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Imagine the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art as the perfect storm. And at the center of the perfect storm there is a perfect vacuum.

So, not unlike in crazylegs' comment, the show sucks?
posted by chavenet at 7:56 AM on October 15, 2014


Hey emperor. Nice shirt. Where's the pants?
posted by tspae at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2014


IndigoJones: Painting and sculpture - not so much. Not fundamentally an interpretive art, that is to say. I mean, there's a big difference between the Mona Lisa as painted by Leonardo and by Rick Meyerowitz.
No one is suggesting those are remotely similar. Red herring.
Taking it a step further, if I commission an architect to do a house and give him a back-of-the-envelope idea of what I want, does that make me an artist?
No more so than if you said to Leonardo, "Paint this woman. She's got a nice smile." But, again, no one is suggesting your premise is true to them.

Basically, you're reducing Koons' work to a parody of the reason some people find it provocative and interesting.

And it takes either a helluva lot of ego, or of naivety, to think that your own personal preferences and viewpoint define the limits on what is "art", Justice Stewart. (Who later recanted his folly, I should note.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:49 AM on October 15, 2014


aught: Fewer people are willing to say that Chihuly glass pieces are not art, however, because what the heck else could it be?

Craft, maybe?
posted by lodurr at 9:01 AM on October 15, 2014


Nice piece of writing.

Koons’s overblown souvenirs are exactly what Duchamp warned against, a habit-forming drug for the superrich. ... There is not a shred of doubt in Jeff Koons. And where there is no doubt there is no art.
posted by exogenous at 9:19 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm by no means an art historian, but calling Koons a Dadaist because he does readymades seems like a really poor bit of critical thinking to me. I also don't think he's particularly ironic in his appreciation of capitalism but I don't really think Warhol (who seems *way* more relevant as a progenitor) was either.
posted by atoxyl at 10:45 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I mean I know the linked piece is arguing that he doesn't represent the values of Dada, but who says he's *supposed* to?
posted by atoxyl at 10:53 AM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I blame Daniel Pinkwater and young adult novel for brining dadaism to the masses (or at least to me).

Tell it to Flipping Hades Terwilliger!
posted by Spatch at 11:22 AM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh my fuck. Look at this statue of Michael Jackson with his chimpanzee. Just look at this insane piece of absurdity. It is gold and white and it looks just like the hideous statues I'd see on the Showcase Of Prizes at the end of an episode of Wheel of Fortune. I am in awe at its tackiness.

I am sure its asking price is higher than several years salary for the average American*. And for once this does not outrage me. It just makes me grin, and giggle, as I imagine some high-powered financieer spending ludicrous amounts of money on this tawdry piece of trash and displaying it proudly in their home because it is Art.

* edit: yep! Wikipedia says three, plus an artist's proof, were made; one went for $5.6 million.
posted by egypturnash at 11:50 AM on October 15, 2014


I mean I know the linked piece is arguing that he doesn't represent the values of Dada, but who says he's *supposed* to?

His art is part of a tradition that descends from Dada and Duchamp, but it dispenses with the values that motivated that tradition to begin with. It's what Dada looks like once you strip out the important parts. That doesn't necessarily make Koons a bad artist -- as you suggest, nothing obliges him to share Dada's values -- but if you think Dada's anti-art stance still matters, his success is bound to seem problematic:
The Koons retrospective is a multimillion-dollar vacuum, but it is also a multimillion-dollar mausoleum in which everything that was ever lively and challenging about avant-gardism and Dada and Duchamp has gone to die. ... [T]he discussion we really need to have ... is about the ideas and (dare I say it?) the ideals of the Dadaists, and the significance of anti-art a hundred years ago and its potential significance today. Frankly, I wonder if those who hail Koons as the high-gloss reincarnation of anti-art really know what anti-art is all about. ... That Koons will be Koons is his own business. That he has had his way with the art world is everybody’s business.
An art world that grants Koons' work such prestige is an art world that appears to have assimilated Dada, but has actually inoculated itself against Dada.

(At least, that's what the article says. I don't know enough about Koons to judge for myself.)
posted by twirlip at 12:27 PM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Now that I remember who Koons is, I can say I find his work amusing.

But dada? I'm still not getting that.

Also, I think the OP is probably right, and that even so that doesn't necessarily mean anything about the quality of koons' work.
posted by lodurr at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2014


I don't really think Warhol (who seems *way* more relevant as a progenitor) was either.

Conceptually, Koons' most direct ancestor seems to be Oldenburg, tho the press likes to fixate on the Warholian nature of his factories and high prices. Many of Koons sculptures seem to be Oldenburg derrière la lettre, but there are claims to be made that Koons produces them in more technologically sophisticated ways. This Atlantic piece from earlier this summer is an interesting look at the science behind several of his noted works.

Just look at this insane piece of absurdity. It is gold and white and it looks just like the hideous statues I'd see on the Showcase Of Prizes at the end of an episode of Wheel of Fortune.

I'm not fond of the Michael Jackson piece. Or of the Staller works. I mean, I think I get the joke here; it's just that's the joke's so trite. But OTOH, what's not to love about the balloon dogs? Or the Balloon Venus? (The balloon works, to me, sometimes recall Brancusi, especially pieces like his Princess X.) Or the topiary works? Where Koons shines, IMO, is in the production of products much more akin to what we think of as "design" than "art." Products that are simply pleasurable to look at and, I like to imagine, to touch. IMO, Koons finest works are more like an Eames chair or an iPod than a Michelangelo.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


His art is part of a tradition that descends from Dada and Duchamp, but it dispenses with the values that motivated that tradition to begin with. It's what Dada looks like once you strip out the important parts. That doesn't necessarily make Koons a bad artist -- as you suggest, nothing obliges him to share Dada's values -- but if you think Dada's anti-art stance still matters, his success is bound to seem problematic:

Is there a pretense that Koons does include the "important parts" of Dada? Except in the minds of very lazy critics? I don't think he shares *much of anything* with Duchamp except the idea of exhibiting objects that aren't your own handiwork. I'm sure there is a history of anti-establishment art that does draw on the actual ideas of Dada (which in itself is kind of famously self-contained to a very short period) but Koons seems firmly in the Pop tradition of focusing on the aesthetics of commercial design and everyday objects. Debating the relationship of Pop to Dada makes sense in 1960, debating the relationship of Pop to capitalism and the crazy contemporary art market makes more sense every year since 1960, but that different artists might use vaguely similar techniques to represent entirely different things across a great span of time does not impress me as a noteworthy observation.
posted by atoxyl at 1:53 PM on October 15, 2014


"No one is suggesting....

Sure they are.

Look, there are categories of creation. The citations I called out were all for collaborative artists: the movie maker, architect, composer, choreographer. However good they may be, they are nothing without other people doing the interpretation (which can vary enormously) or the heavy lifting.

Contrast this with the painter with a brush, writer with a pen, sculptor with a chisel. All are (potentially) one man operations. Lock Michelangelo in a room with a hunk of marble, wait a few months, you get the Pieta. !00% pure Michelangelo.

Koons hires craftsmen, then puts his name on the finished product. Does he lift a chisel, shape the wax mold, bend and polish the steel? Apparently not. Whether this is by choice or by his inability, I do not know. But it is undeniable that his failure to touch the finished means that the finished product is, for better or worse, not what it would have been if he had put his hands to the chisel, mold, or steel.

It's a pretty clear distinction. And it's the reason that a genuine, say Titian, costs a whole lot more than a Studio of Titian, or worse, School of Titian.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:49 PM on October 15, 2014


Maybe it would be better to talk about Koons in relation to anti-art generally (a tendency that was an important element in Pop Art), rather than Dada and Duchamp specifically. I do think it can be useful to try and imagine what the Dadaists would make of Koons and his place in the art world. Koons' work is provocative because it's so successful; "tastelessness" is a route to conventional art-world success, whereas for Dada it was a way of attacking art as an institution. That's an interesting shift, and I think Jed Perl is right to suggest that something weird is happening when we gloss over the discrepancy.

(Incidentally, This New Criterion piece on the Whitney retrospective connects Koons both to Duchamp and to Pop artists like Claes Oldenburg. I wonder to what extent both pieces were prompted by the exhibition catalogue.)
posted by twirlip at 4:01 PM on October 15, 2014


Well perhaps I don't know enough about Koons. Primarily where I've been coming from is that the impression*I* tend to get from Pop Art is of a certain sincerity at its heart - a genuine appreciation for the aesthetics of mass culture and industrial design and a sense that manufactured things constitute the true landscape of our times. So more often than not I have interpreted Koons as genuinely embracing and elevating and really just kind of having fun with childish or "tasteless" things. And from this perspective these works would make sense even if Dada had never happened. I won't stand in your way if you want to argue that being unapologetic about crass commercialism does not ameliorate it, but I don't see a lot of *contradictions* until he tries to be "anti" and "establishment" art at the same time and in most of the famous stuff I don't see much "anti." But there may be more than I'm aware of.
posted by atoxyl at 7:42 PM on October 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Koons hires craftsmen, then puts his name on the finished product.

AFAIK, Koons conceives, designs, and engineers his works, then may or may not be involved in the final construction. The Atlantic piece I mentioned earlier goes into a little detail on the design challenges faced by several pieces. (This piece provides another look at his workshop.) In this respect Koons' methods aren't too unlike those of, say, Serra or Brancusi or Rodin or even Michelangelo, who painted the Sistine Chapel with a team of assistants. Historically, the line between works "100% pure" and much more collaborative results hasn't been as bright as some people want it to be.

I'm not sold on Koons' career as a whole—tho he probably remains the most engaging of the Neo-Expressionists—but I'm baffled at how, frauds and schoolwork aside, "he didn't do all his own work" is a relevant objection to anything.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:50 PM on October 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


As I was drifting off to sleep last night I was thinking about another artist whose work is a fine example of the blurry line between solitary and collaborative production, namely Sol LeWitt. LeWitt's sculptures (or "structures") and drawings are the result of precise instructions—often compared to scores—which anyone can follow. As LeWitt famously said "The idea becomes the machine that makes the art."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]






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