Jeff Koons uses the languages of fine art, advertising, and entertainment, collapsing the barriers between high and low to communicate his ideas. He is well aware of the paths laid by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jasper Johns, who incorporated aspects of pop culture into their work. Like many artists who emerged in the 1980s, Koons used appropriation to focus his work on the most standard of images from the visual world. In the sculptures for which he is best known, he borrows from advertisements for liquor, vacuum cleaners, and basketballs, even depicting Michael Jackson and his pet monkey, Bubbles. He casts these common subjects in shiny stainless steel, ceramic, or porcelain, elevating them to high-art status, and forcing us to reevaluate the way we view our daily surroundings.
The Art Magazine Ads represent Koons’ mission to communicate with as wide an audience as possible. Placed in Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, and Art News, the ads were designed as promotions for his own gallery exhibitions. In each, Koons, surrounded by highly contrived props and sets, stares directly from the magazine pages and challenges the viewer to acknowledge his achievements and success. Made toward the end of a decade in which many American artists–including Koons–became stars through their manipulation of mass media in their work, his ads represent an interesting commentary not only on his own career, but on the art world of the 1980s.
This is the first work by Jeff Koons to enter the Walker’s permanent collection.