Jeff Koons | Versailles

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EXCLUSIVE: From his studio in New York City, Jeff Koons discusses his 2008 exhibition at the Château de Versailles in France. Koons explores the power and sensuality of the grounds at Versailles, citing Louis Quatorze (Louis XIV) as an inspriation for his 1992 piece, Puppy, a large floral sculpture made out of 60,000 large flowers.

Jeff Koons plucks images and objects from popular culture, framing questions about taste and pleasure. His contextual sleight-of-hand, which transforms banal items into sumptuous icons, takes on a psychological dimension through dramatic shifts in scale, spectacularly engineered surfaces, and subliminal allegories of animals, humans, and anthropomorphized objects. The subject of art history is a constant undercurrent, whether Koons elevates kitsch to the level of Classical art, produces photos in the manner of Baroque paintings, or develops public works that borrow techniques and elements of seventeenth-century French garden design. Organizing his own studio production in a manner that rivals a Renaissance workshop, Koons makes computer-assisted, handcrafted works that communicate through their meticulous attention to detail.

Jeff Koons is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Fantasy of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Watch the full episode online in the PBS Video portal (available for a limited time, through November 13, 2009).

Jeff Koons. "Split Rocker," 2000. Stainless steel, soil, geotextile fabric, internal irrigation system, and live flowering plants, 441 x 465 x 426 inches. Installation view, "Jeff Koons Versailles," Château de Versailles, France, October 9, 2008–April 1, 2009. © Jeff Koons. Courtesy the artist.

Jeff Koons. Split Rocker, 2000. Stainless steel, soil, geotextile fabric, internal irrigation system, and live flowering plants, 441 x 465 x 426 inches. Installation view, “Jeff Koons Versailles,” Château de Versailles, France, October 9, 2008–April 1, 2009. © Jeff Koons. Courtesy the artist.

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Martial Barrault & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Mark Mandler. Editor: Paulo Padilha & Mark Sutton. Artwork Courtesy: Jeff Koons. Special Thanks: L’Etablissement Public du musée et du domaine national de Versailles.

Contributor
Jonathan Munar is the Director of Digital Media and Strategy at Art21, overseeing the organization's overall digital, Web, and social media presences. He edits and contributes to Art21's "Art 2.1" column.
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