Jeff Koons with his Balloon Dog in Mexico City | Source: Agencia El Universal

New Generation: For Millennials the Jeff Koons Balloon Dog As Recognisable As A Warhol

I like to think that when you leave the room, the art leaves the room. Art is about your own possibilities as a human being. It’s about your own excitement, your own potential, and what you can become. It affirms your existence.

Jeff Koons

A generation-defining artist, American Jeff Koons is one of the waves of modern artists who represent a new era of art. A pioneer in the contemporary art age, for the last four decades Koons has impressed, shocked and baffled art fans.

While wildly controversial, there’s one thing that can’t be disputed, he is influential. His most notable pieces have broken auction records including three world records for most expensive artwork by a living artist.

Two of his pieces are on the list of highest record auction prices for a work by a living artist – A$79.89 million for Balloon Dog (Orange) in 2013 and A$124.63 million for Rabbit in 2019.

Rising up the ranks of the art world hierarchy in the mid-1980s, Koons established himself as an artist that challenges the meaning of art in a media-saturated era. His style is defined by pop art, conceptual art and minimalism commonly featuring everyday objects with themes and subjects from popular culture.

Most widely known for his pop culture-inspired sculptures and a string of highly prominent collaborations with the likes of BMW, Louis Vuitton and Jay-Z, here’s a look at Jeff Koons’ milestone collaborations and most influential artworks.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988

The luxury porcelain sculpture depicts Michael Jackson with his pet chimpanzee Bubbles. It was created from a press photograph of the pair in 1988. The large piece features opulent gold and white referencing medieval and religious statues.

Jeff Koons explained he wanted to show Michael in a larger-than-life status:

I wanted to create him in a very god-like icon manner.

Rabbit, 1986

The stainless steel sculpture is one of Koons’ most iconic pieces after selling for a record-breaking A$124.63 million at auction in 2019. The minimalist 3-foot high structure somehow feels inviting yet menacing. The piece has influenced many of his later works and come to define a large aspect of his style.

BMW

The famous artist collaborated with the luxury German car company back in 2010 when he created a unique BMW M3 GT2 Art Car which performed at the 24 Hours of Le Man’s race. More recently the two announced a new partnership with Koons designing a special edition of the BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupe.

The artist is certainly keen on the new project saying;

I am really thrilled and honoured about the opportunity to work with BMW again and to create a special edition car.

Lady Gaga Artpop album cover

The famous Jeff Koons fan references the artist in her song Applause, singing:

One second I’m a Koons, then suddenly the Koons is me.

It only made sense then that the pop star would allow collaboration with the artist for the background of her 2013 album cover. The unique artwork references Koons’ other pieces such as his Woman in Tub sculpture and his Gazing Ball series.

Play-Doh

From inception in 1994 until its creation in 2014, Jeff Koons brought his signature style to what is most commonly associated with a children’s toy, Play-Doh. The 10-foot-tall painted aluminium sculpture is one of the largest and most complex works from his Celebration series, inspired by his son Ludwig’s similar creation with the toy. The artist has made five versions of the now-iconic piece – the first displayed his ‘A Retrospective‘ exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2014.

Seated Ballerina

As part of the artists ‘Antiquity‘ series which fuses imagery and techniques from ancient and modern art, Koons created the 7-foot-tall mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture. He also made a foot-and-half tall version crafted from hand-painted wood in an edition of 50. A 45-foot inflated balloon version was also erected in the popular tourist destination of Midtown Manhattan in New York City in 2017 outside the Rockefeller Centre.

If you are interested in art and want to learn more about other influential artists of the last few decades have a look at Banky and some of his most debatable pieces.

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