Beginning his career in the 1980s, and fascinated with media spectacle, American artist Jeff Koons is renowned for his controversial, often large-scale sculptures. If you’re looking for original Jeff Koons prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.
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Jeff Koons' art looks at everything from consumerism to sex and celebrity - with his balloon sculptures giving new meaning to the term ‘POP’ art. Koons' Pop Art-inspired work uses toys, inflatables, household items and luxury goods to explore the human experience within popular culture and the material modern world.
Born in 1955 in Pennsylvania, Koons went on to study painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he met painter Ed Paschke, who had a significant influence on the younger artist’s style. In 1977 Koons moved to New York, where he took a job working the membership desk of MoMA; however, by the 1980s, he was working as a broker on Wall Street, which allowed him to 'make exactly what art I wanted to make. And I would always know that I didn’t need the art market.'
By the mid-1980s, Koons enjoyed increased recognition for his explorations of the kitsch and the mundane. His Banality series set out to do precisely this: to celebrate the ordinary, the boring, the usual. Began in 1988, the series is composed of ceramics, sculptures and painted wood that draw all the way from the music industry to religious iconography. To publicise the release of this series, Koons published his Art Magazine Ads portfolio. The portfolio featured highly provocative photographs and slogans that encouraged the celebration of the bourgeoisie. Now, these images are just as famous as the series they promoted and continue to be relevant more than 30 years since their release.
Even more controversial and shocking, Made In Heaven is Koons’ most risqué series. For this body of works, the artist produced a number of photographs, inspired by Rococo and Baroque artists such as Boucher, Fragonard and Bernini, that depicted the artist and his then-wife Ilona Staller in sexually explicit poses that blurred the lines between high art and pornography.
However, despite the critical and commercial success of these works, it is his Inflatable series that have secured Koons a spot in the podium of the art market. Featuring balloon sculptures of dogs and rabbits, this series is one of Koons’ most iconic. Starting with a balloon animal, Koons would cast it in stainless steel that would be highly polished to create a mirror effect. One such an iteration of these works, Rabbit (1986), became the most expensive work of art ever sold by a living artist, realising a sale price of over US$91 million when sold at Christie’s New York in May 2019.
Image © Christie's / Rabbit © Jeff Koons 1986
The work of ‘King of Kitsch’ Jeff Koons is known for attracting staggeringly high auction prices. The sale of Rabbit (1986) at Christie’s New York in May 2019 is a case in point; at the time it was the most expensive work of art ever sold by a living artist, realising a sale price of over US$91 million. The stainless steel sculpture, 1 of an edition of 3, was sold by the estate of the late magazine publisher and heir to Condé Nast, Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. The work was bought up by hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, the owner of the New York Mets baseball team.
Image Christie's Balloon Dog (Orange) Jeff Koons 1994
With the appearance of a balloon’s soft and malleable surface, the monumental stainless steel sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange) was created by American artist Jeff Koons in 1994. Part of Koons’s Celebration series, it realised an enormous US$58,405,000 at auction at Christie’s New York in November 2013.
Along with another of the artist’s sculptural works, Rabbit (1986), which sold for over US$91 million in 2019, Balloon Dog (Orange) broke the record for the highest auction price for a work by a living artist. Purchased by an unknown telephone buyer, Balloon Dog (Orange) was once owned by publishing tycoon Peter Brant.
A large-scale metallic sculpture in the form of a bunch of cartoon-like flowers, Tulips (1995) belongs to Jeff Koons’s Celebration series. Measuring two metres tall and five metres wide, Tulips (1995) sold for a similarly monumental US$33.6 million in 2012 at Christie’s auction house in New York.
Started in 1994, the Celebration series marked the aftermath of Koons’s split from his Hungarian-Italian wife, Ilona Staller. A subject of the artist’s highly controversial Made In Heaven (1990) photography series, first shown at the 1990 Venice Biennale, Staller took the pair’s newly-born son to Italy with her after a breakdown in their relationship. In an attempt to convince his young family to return to the US, Koons commissioned a series of sculptures representing life’s milestones.
Image © Christie's / Jim Beam – J.N. Turner Train © Jeff Koons 1986