- Jeff Koons
- Balloon Monkey Wall Relief (Yellow)
- silkscreen on stainless steel with polychromed edges
- 103 5/8 x 119 7/8 x 1 1/4 in. 263.1 x 304.4 x 3.18 cm.
- Executed in 2011 / 2013.
Koons’s work has been featured in a dozen exhibitions at the Whitney, beginning in 1987 with the Biennial of that year. For the museum’s 1989 exhibition Image World: Art and Media Culture, he was asked to produce an image commenting on the media. The resulting work, a suggestive ad for a movie featuring the artist with the Italian porn star Cicciolina, placed on several billboards around the city, formed the basis for his controversial series Made In Heaven, featured the following year at the Venice Biennale. In the Whitney’s permanent collection is one of Koons’s early works, New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Blue; New Hoover Convertibles, Green, Blue; Double-decker (1981–87), a display of four of the titled upright vacuums arranged in a Plexiglas vitrine lit with fluorescent lights. A part of his series The New, the conceptual sculpture was an early engagement with the ideas of readymades and marketing as a subject for his art. Also in the collection is Untitled (Girl with Dolphin and Monkey) (2006), a chromogenic photographic print featuring a mannequin with the two inflatable animals, perhaps an allusion to the image of Arion riding the dolphin depicted by Dürer and others.
Balloon Monkey Wall Relief (Yellow) is a work from 2011 that reprises the inflatable toy motif explored throughout Koons’s oeuvre, here silkscreened onto a large-scale stainless steel sheet and polychromed at its edges. Merging the media of sculpture, printmaking, and painting into a single form, the monumental wall sculpture is a signature amalgam of the artist’s trompe-l’oeil mastery and cultural commentary. The monkey, here in the form a children’s twisted-balloon party toy, has been a recurring figure in Koons’s art, from his well-known statue of Michael Jackson with his pet chimp to his painting Monkeys (ladder) (2003) and the ceiling-hung chain of inflated monkeys from his recent Popeye series, Monkeys (chair) (2009).