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Friday, July 6, 2012

THINGS THAT GO POP: JEFF KOONS’S SEESAW MARKET



Things that go pop: Jeff Koons’s seesaw market
He’s the toast of Europe’s museums, but his prices go up and down

By Georgina Adam. From Art Basel daily edition
Published online: 15 June 2012

One American artist seems to be everywhere this year. At the Fondation Beyeler here in Basel, the acclaimed exhibition “Jeff Koons” opened on 13 May (until 2 September). The celebrations continue in Frankfurt on 20 June, when simultaneous exhibitions—one of his painting, the other of his sculpture—open at the Schirn Kunsthalle and the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung (until 23 September). A Koons retrospective is being organised by New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, which is due to open next year and will travel to the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Works by Koons are for sale at Art Basel and in the saleroom. Christie’s is selling a Baroque Egg with Bow (Blue/Turquoise), 1994-2008, from the “Celebration” series, in its auction in London on 27 June. One of five differently coloured versions, it is estimated at £2.5m to £3.5m.

At Art Basel, Koons’s principal dealer, Gagosian Gallery (2.0/B15), is showing a large painting: Auto, 2001. L&M Arts (2.0/B12) has a mirror piece, Inflatable Yellow Flower, 2011, priced at $800,000. Richard Gray Gallery (2.0/E4) is offering a Bikini (Jungle) piece, 2001-06, for $950,000, while the print publisher Carolina Nitsch (2.1/Q8) sold her remaining copies of a crystal archive print, Untitled (Girl with dolphin and monkey), 2006, priced at $60,000 (edition of 25).

“There is tremendous demand for Koons’s works at collector and museum level,” says Larry Gagosian, who held his first solo show for Koons in 2001 and describes him as “a once-in-a-generation, transformative artist”.

He is also a divisive one. Some think he is one of the key artists of our time, for the technical perfection of his work, made by master craftsmen, and his branded, post-pop melding of high art with kitsch. Others can be damning. The critic Robert Hughes once wrote: “[Koons] has the slimy assurance, the gross patter about transcendence through art, of a blow-dried Baptist selling swamp acres in Florida.”


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