The highlight of the year at Tennis Palace Art Museum is the retrospective exhibition of American artist Jeff Koons, who turns 50 this year. The show is composed of 41 works from 1979–2004. Koons' production consists of large-scale paintings, sculptures in stainless steel, aluminium, wood and porcelain, as well as ready-mades.
Jeff Koons is one of the most controversial artists of our time. Wherever the artist goes, he is pursued by a media storm. Ever since the mid-1980s, his art and life have occasioned heated debates about commercialism in art and the meaning of art to the masses. Koons' works fetch enormous prices, which currently ranks him among the ten most expensive contemporary artists in the world.
Jeff Koons' art touches upon issues of consumerism, advertising and the media. Koons takes his subjects from the life of the American middle class. He wants people to re-evaluate everyday objects and consumer products. According to Koons, people should not be ashamed of their way of life but embrace their own culture and history.
Jeff Koons' art is often associated with Pop Art. His works recurrently raise questions about the boundary between high and low. What is it that makes basketballs or vacuum cleaners art? Why does a gilded sculpture of Michael Jackson adorn the collections of a major art museum? Is an alcohol advertisement art when it is hung on a museum wall? These are interesting and important issues which have been discussed in the history of art during the past forty-five years.
In the early 1990s, Koons outraged some American audiences with his series Made in Heaven, in which he posed nude with an Italian porn star, his then wife Ilona Staller, aka La Cicciolina. Replete with romantic love, the mood in the works softens their blatant sexuality.
In the past few years, Jeff Koons has returned to the themes of his older ready-mades. His latest pieces resemble his 1980s installations made of inflatable toys, now re-cast in metal. In addition to sculptures, Jeff Koons now makes large paintings that are based on narrative collages initially composed on a computer.
A thread in all of Jeff Koons’ works is the idea of transcendence. He states, “Art’s something that came into my life and gave me the acceptance of myself to be able to have transcendence appear within my life.”
The exhibition has been compiled by the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo. The exhibition is being sponsored by Anna magazine and supported by the US Embassy.
Guided tours: Guided tours free of charge are conducted in Finnish on Wednesdays at 6 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm; in Swedish on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month at 1 pm. For tours at other times, tel. +358-(0)9-310 87003.