NOW - JEFF KOONS
On view until the 16th October 2016 ‘Now’ is the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to the artist featuring over thirty paintings, works on paper and sculptures dating from 1979 to 2014. Drawn from Hirst’s collection, a number of these works have never before been shown in the UK.
Tracing the development of the artist’s radical reconfiguration of the readymade, the exhibition features one of Koons’s earliest works, Inflatable Flowers (Short White, Tall Purple) (1979), a vinyl blow-up flower displayed on a mirrored floor tile. Signalling the conception of one of Koons’s most enduring themes – the inflatable – it is here presented alongside a number of his iconic Hoover sculptures. Part of The New series (1980–1983), the wall-mounted Hoovers – in which immaculate, unused household appliances are displayed in fluorescent-lit, acrylic boxes – date from Koons’s time working as a Wall Street commodities broker. Two of the Hoovers, which remain eternally pristine despite being outdated, were included in Koons’s first solo exhibition, at New York’s New Museum in 1980. Part of that installation – originally displayed in the museum’s storefront windows – has been reassembled for this exhibition. For the artist, the readymade, whether in the form of a child’s toy, Baroque sculpture or advertising billboard, provides “the most objective statement possible”.
Having begun his career focusing on the status of the object, ‘Now’ demonstrates how Koons quickly embarked on his lifelong investigation into the means by which objects are represented and communicated. With his sculptures cast in stainless steel, he returned to the inflatable; seductively replicating pre-existing objects in the gleaming, simulated opulence of the proletarian material. Employing cutting-edge technology, seemingly fragile, air-filled vinyl blow-ups and balloon animals are reproduced in stainless steel, sometimes rendered on the monumental scale of Balloon Monkey (Blue) (2006–2013), here exhibited in Newport Street’s double- height gallery. The reflective surfaces of these sculptures serve to “constantly remind viewers of their existence”, as Koons maintains, “it’s all about you”.