- Jeff Koons
- New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polisher
- shampoo polisher, Plexiglas, fluorescent lights
- 56 x 15 1/2 x 12 in. 142.2 x 39.4 x 30.5 cm.
- Executed in 1980-1986.
International with Monument, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1986
Jeff Koons' New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polisher, from 1980-1986 crystallizes contemporary society’s investment in novelty. Koons' debut solo exhibition in the United States was a window installation at the New Museum in New York which he titled, The New. As his overt subject matter, Koons chose the symbolic trophies of suburban middle-class domesticity, the vacuum cleaner and floor polisher, internally lit by cold neon light. He began to make this series of appliance assimilations by fixing household devices to upright supports with fluorescent lighting mounted behind the structure to give the vacuum cleaner and polisher a somewhat unsettling incandescence. Unlike some of the later works from the series, the present work, New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polisher is not covered with Plexiglas, exposing the elements to the viewer. By showing an installation of appliances as aesthetic objects in a museum display that looks like a shop window, Koons opened the first page of a lifelong journal concerned with the nexus and polarity of High and Low paradigms.
Koons here takes an ordinarily utilitarian object and transforms it into a work of art. In doing so, he raises questions posed by Marcel Duchamp regarding the status of the object and the dynamics of originality. In his work one can also see the influence of Dan Flavin; the fluorescent lights and the perfect geometry draw a strong connection to minimalism. Koons' work forces the viewer to regard the shampoo polisher as a sculptural rather than a functional object. The object is transformed from an everyday domestic tool to a minimal and conceptual construction, an object of art to be viewed and considered formally. Not unlike Andy Warhol's re-appropriation of popular commercial items such as soup cans and Brillo-pads, Koons' pointed disruption of the familiar aims to bring new meaning and new life.
The art-historical and formalistic approach, as well as the combination of Pop Art and Minimal Art in a very unique "new" way alone legitimizes the present work as a very important piece. Koons addresses social issues such as class and gender roles as well as consumerism, while at the same time expressing very personal concerns about confinement and life. The artist communicates through a heightened sense of symbolism. Alan Schwartzman notes that "The irony [with the 'Hoovers'] was two fold: these virginal, never-to-be-used machines for removing filth were concerned with our consumerist obsession with new products, with youth, with suburban purification." (Alan Schwartzman, "The Yippie-Yuppie Artist", Manhattan, Inc., December 1987, p.131) The poetry of New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polisher lies in its subtle examination of immorality. The work represents the ultimate and ideal sense of newness: once the vacuum is used, the purity and virginity of the piece is lost and the piece becomes mortal.
In the series Koons' vacuum cleaners and polishers glow in ethereal iridescent lights that fetishize the object. The present work is a modern day shrine to mass culture and consumerism as Koons provokes challenging questions and expectations in an era all but incapable of aesthetic surprise. As Koons describes his work, "It's brand new, it's in a position to out-survive you, the viewer. It doesn't have feelings, but it is better prepared to be eternal." (Exh.Cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Jeff Koons, 1992, p. 41) Like a relic of a new age, New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polisher is a complex and significant example of Koons' work from his The New series.