Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Jeff Koons
B.1955
THE NEW JEFF KOONS
duratran, fluorescent light box
40 5/8 x 30 5/8 x 8 in. 103.2 x 77.8 x 20.3 cm.
Executed in 1980, this work is unique.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Saatchi Collection, London
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London
Private Collection, Switzerland
Zwirner & Wirth, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in June 2002

Exhibited

New York, Artists Space, Los Angeles - New York Exchange, 1983
San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Jeff Koons, December 1992 - October 1993, pl. 4, illustrated in color
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Jeff Koons: Pictures 1980 - 2002, September - November 2002, frontispiece, illustrated in color
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, The Last Picture Show: Artists Using Photography 1960 - 1982, October 2003 - January 2004
New York, C&M Arts, Jeff Koons: Highlights of 25 Years, April - June 2004, cat. no. 1, n.p., illustrated in color and illustrated in color in the chronology
Edinburgh, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Dada's Boys: Identity and Play in Contemporary Art, May - July 2006, p. 38, illustrated in color
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Jeff Koons, May - September 2008, pp. 10 and 32, illustrated in color
Riehen/Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Jeff Koons, May - September 2012, p. 49, illustrated in color and p. 46, illustrated (installation view in Artists Space, New York, 1983)

Literature

Jeanne Siegel, "Jeff Koons: Unachievable States of Being," Art magazine, October 1986, p. 69, illustrated
Dan Cameron, NY Art Now: the Saatchi Collection, London, 1987, p. 129, illustrated in color
New York in View, Kunstverein Munich, 1988, p. 5, illustrated
Angelika Muthesius, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 1992, p. 41, illustrated (detail)
Exh. Cat., Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum (and travelling), Jeff Koons Retrospektiv, 1992-1993, p. 2, illustrated in color (Amsterdam & Stuttgart) and p. 7, illustrated in color (Aarhus)
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, The Jeff Koons Handbook, New York, 1992, illustrated as title page
Albig Jorg-Uwe, "Jeff Koons, ein Prophet der inneren Leere," Art, December 1992, p. 60, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Athens School of Fine Arts (and travelling), Everything that's Interesting is New: The Dakis Joannou Collection, 1996, p. 286, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Jeff Koons, 2003, p. 20, illustrated in color
Sarah Cosulich Canarutto, Jeff Koons (Supercontemporanea series), Milan, 2006, pp. 28-29, illustrated in color
Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 2007 (reprinted 2009), p. 123, illustrated in color
Marybeth Sollins, ed., art: 21, Dalton, 2009, p. 88, illustrated in color
Exh. Cat., London, Tate Modern (and travelling), POP Life: Art in a Material World, 2009 - 2010, p. 36, illustrated in color
Katy Siegel, Since '45: America and the Making of Contemporary Art, London, 2011, p. 115, Illustrated

Catalogue Note

The New Jeff Koons is my kindergarten photograph… This was at a time when I really felt, or could recognise that I felt, like an artist for the first time."
The artist in Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 2009, p. 122

Jeff Koons is one of the most innovative and influential artists working today, an internationally recognized figure whose oeuvre has consistently challenged preconceived notions of the nature of art itself, exploiting the unexpected potentials of a wide variety of media and techniques to produce work of astonishing diversity and eclecticism. As painter, sculptor and photographer, Koons has transcended traditional artistic boundaries, forging a creative language that is utterly distinctive despite its versatility. Endlessly inventive and consistently witty, Koons’ body of work appropriates instantly recognizable, everyday imagery, transforming seemingly mundane objects or figures into icons of our times. Audience engagement and enjoyment is of crucial importance to Koons, as he indicated in an interview: “I have always been very interested in trying to control what that [viewer] reaction is, what they view, how they feel, what their inner reaction is, what psychology takes place at that moment. But at the same time to make a piece that can go on and have a life of its own.” (cited in an interview with Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist in Exh. Cat., Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Jeff Koons: Retrospective, 2004, p. 62)

The New Jeff Koons is a highly important example of the artist’s early work, and marks a rare opportunity to acquire a piece from this crucial period of Koons’ artistic development. Whilst engaging with a centuries-old tradition of self-portraiture, The New Jeff Koons brilliantly epitomizes the artist’s aim of making a direct connection with the viewer: the eyes of the four year old Koons stare out at the onlooker, compelling attention; there is no hint of timidity or shyness within the direct gaze. The future artist appears to be a model of good behavior, hair perfectly in place and clothes tidily arranged, whilst happily occupied with a set of crayons which seem to prophetically signify later success. The quality and coloration of the photo reveal its late 1950s vintage, introducing corresponding allusions to the best elements of the quintessential American suburban childhood, sheltered from the social and political concerns of the period. Katy Siegel argues that the depiction of the juvenile Koons conforms to an accepted trope of childhood innocence and the accompanying ideal of the renewal of unadulterated creative powers: “It is an image of the young artist, and of childhood itself; a point in time that modern art has always cast as the moment of purity and true creativity to which the artist strives to return. In Koons’ self-portrait he is young, unspoiled, even virginal… And yet, even at this young age, he has been emphatically shaped, formed in the image of the perfect young boy… Who or what shaped him? The demands and desires of the educational culture, and his parents? Or his own ambitions?” (Katy Siegel in Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 2009, p. 110) Koons’ background certainly appears to have provided a key creative impetus: his father owned a furniture and interior design store in which the young Koons was able to gain an early understanding of design and decoration, and his parents encouraged his interest in art from a young age to the best of their ability. The boy Koons has shown in The New Jeff Koons certainly appears confident in his nascent artistic ability and in his choice of occupation: there is already a sense of the unwavering determination and astonishing imagination which was to carry him to the very pinnacle of his chosen career.

The New Jeff Koons was created as Koons hovered on the cusp of a radical change in stylistic direction. Aside from paintings as a student, Koons’ earliest work had featured colorful inflatables installed on mirrored platforms, an artistic chapter which rapidly segued into experimentation with lighting installations in the manner of Dan Flavin, adorned with household objects such as toasters or teapots. It was not until 1980, the year in which The New Jeff Koons was made, that Koons inaugurated a new phase of his art which he believed satisfied the creative aims for which he had been striving. The New series – as opposed to the earlier Pre-New series – gave rise to what were to become some of Koons’ most recognizable works, including the series of Hoovers encased in Plexiglas that the artist considered a celebration of the object in itself. The creation of The New Jeff Koons during this period is of major import, arguably indicating that Koons felt he had finally been able to access his true creative identity and utilize his artistic prowess in satisfactory directions. The artist’s own analysis of The New Jeff Koons seems to support this idea, arguably associating his youthful recognition of artistic skill with his breakthrough provided by the New series: “The New Jeff Koons is my kindergarten photograph… This was at a time when I really felt, or could recognise that I felt, like an artist for the first time, and that art had come in under my feet and was just taking me away, and I was following it. I always liked to think that that picture showed my greatest amount of integrity.” (cited in Ibid., p. 122) The use of the word ‘New’ in the title further supports this concept of artistic birth and incarnation. Ultimately The New Jeff Koons is an incredibly significant work within Koons’ oeuvre, anticipating the profoundly great creative heights the artist would scale in the course of his future career.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York