Lot 50
  • 50

Jeff Koons

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • 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.


Donated by the artist

Catalogue Note

When the Whitney Museum of American Art mounts the final exhibition in its Marcel Breuer building before moving to Lower Manhattan, nearly four decades of work by the artist Jeff Koons will fill its galleries. As iconic as it has been controversial, Koons’s art has been variously branded as Neo-Geo, post-Pop, or Duchampian, though its originality and transformative influence on younger artists has defied categorization. Drawing on influences from Salvador Dalí and Chicago Imagist Ed Paschke to Baroque sculpture, Renaissance Italian painting, seventeenth-century garden design, and Francis Picabia, Koons, working from a laboratory-like factory studio with nearly one hundred assistants, creates exquisitely crafted sculptures and paintings that have taken everything from inflatable toys to ancient Roman statuary, commercial advertising, and Popeye as their subjects. In works such as Rabbit (1986), cast in highly polished stainless steel from an inflatable plastic Easter Bunny; the life-sized porcelain statue Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), from his Banality series; liquor advertisements and cocktail accessories in stainless steel that comprise his Luxury and Degradation project; the massive topiary Puppy (1992); and the Metallic Venus (2010–12), from his recent Antiquityseries, Koons explores ideas about commerce, taste, celebrity, desire, beauty, and the eternal.

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).