Lot 134
  • 134

JEFF KOONS | Soccerball (Molten)

180,000 - 250,000 GBP
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  • Jeff Koons
  • Soccerball (Molten)
  • bronze
  • 19 by 19 by 19 cm. 7 1/2 by 7 1/2 by 7 1/2 in.
  • Executed in 1985, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3, plus 1 artist's proof.


International With Monument, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Allan Schwartzman, 'The Yippie-Yuppie Artist', Manhatten Inc, No. 12, December 1987, p. 140 (text)(ed. no. unknown)
Corinne Robins, 'Goods and No-So-Goods: 60s/80s  Sculpture Parallels.', Arts Magazine, No. 10, June 1988, p. 64 (text)(ed. no. unknown)
Angelika Muthesius, Ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne 1992, p. 62, no. 14, illustrated in colour; p. 166 (text)(ed. no. unknown)
Jeff Koons and Anthony d'Offay Gallery, The Jeff Koons Handbook, London 1992, p. 155 (text)
Moritz Wullen and Bernd Ebert, Der Ball ist rund: Kreis, Kugel, Kosmos/ The Ball is Round: Circle, Sphere and Cosmos, Berlin 2006, illustrated in colour (cover), p. 160, illustrated in colour (ed. no. unknown)
Hans Werner Holzwarth, Ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne 2008, p. 160, illustrated in colour (ed. no. unknown)


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is slightly warmer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals some superficial minute media accretions towards the underside of the work. All other surface irregularities are in keeping with the artists casting process.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

A precursor to the artist’s use of fabricated inflatables, Jeff Koons’s Soccerball (Molten) is a seminal bronze from his iconic Equilibrium series. As Koons explains “inflatables, of course, are metaphors for people and they are metaphors of life and optimism for me” (Jeff Koons in conversation with Ruth Lopex, in: Chicago Magazine, June 2008, online). At once aesthetically alluring and meticulously fabricated, this sculpture speaks to the very heart of Koons’ relationship with inflatables. Koons came to public attention with his 1985 show Equilibrium at International with Monument Gallery in New York. This solo exhibition debuted his first bronze sculptures, an array of Nike posters, and the now-famous Equilibrium Tanks, which contain basketballs floating miraculously in water-filled fish tanks. Writing about the series Daniela Salvioni aptly states that “Koons manipulates objects into metaphorical embodiments of society’s dysfunctions. This poetics of objects recalls Jasper Johns’ cast-bronze beer cans, in which an ordinary object becomes endowed with a surplus of meaning, and the surrealist tactic of juxtaposing unexpected elements, as in Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup” (Daniela Salvioni, ‘Jeff Koons’s Poetics of Class’, in: Exh. Cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Jeff Koons, 1992, p. 20). Dealing with the broader issues of social mobility, Soccerball (Molten), and the Equilibrium series as a whole, broach the aspirational promises promoted by consumer culture – specifically those that target the under-privileged. In inner-city areas, professional sports are considered by many as the quintessential way out. Within the field of sport, ball sports such as basketball and football are the urban choice, suited to small backyards and inexpensive equipment. Koons glorified these in the present work, therefore, as tantalising and precarious metaphors for upward social mobility. The artist elaborates, “white middle-class kids have been using art the same way that other ethnic groups have been using basketball – for social mobility. You could take one of those basketball stars, Dr. Dunkenstein, or the Secretary of Defense, and one could have been me, or Baselitz, or whoever” (Angelika Muthesius, Jeff Koons, Cologne 1992, p. 19).

Impossibility and unsustainability are essential themes in the Koons’ Equilibrium series, and Soccerball (Molten) embodies these themes with undeniable sprezzatura. The meticulous cast and the rich colour of bronze arouse our curiosity and create a unique viewing sensation that is simultaneously solemn and buoyant, exciting and somber. Simultaneously, Soccerball (Molten) operates intellectually by allowing us to question, through the medium of sculpture, the act of preservation. Koons’ attempts to render all of the objects in his Equilibrium series useless. This is the state of equilibrium or balance toward which the entire Equilibrium series aspires, as the artwork is harmonised for the present, existing in stasis, almost inaccessible.