Lot 53
  • 53

JEFF KOONS | Elephant (Violet)

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
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  • Jeff Koons
  • Elephant (Violet)
  • signed and dated 1995-2000 on the underside of the foot
  • mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
  • 150 by 120 by 7 1/8 in. 381 by 304.8 by 18.1 cm.
  • Executed in 1995-2000, this work is one of five unique versions (Blue, Orange, Yellow, Magenta and Violet).


Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by David Teiger in July 2004


Venice, Venice Biennale, XLVII Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte, 1997, p. 703 (text) (another example)
Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Jeff Koons: Retrospective, September - December 2004, p. 106, illustrated in color (Yellow example)
Los Angeles, Gagosian Gallery, Sculpture, July - August 2006 (Yellow example) 
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Jeff Koons: Celebration, October 2008 - February 2009, p. 69, illustrated in color (Orange example)


David Rimanelli, Artforum 35, no. 10, Summer 1997, p. 114, illustrated (another example in progress), and pp. 115-116 (text)
Keith Seward, "Frankenstein in Paradise," in Parkett 50/51, December 1997, p. 78, illustrated in color (Blue example)
Exh. Cat., Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Jeff Koons, 2003, p. 98, illustrated in color (Blue version)
Gunnar B. Kvaran, Arthur C. Danto, Hanne Beate Ueland, Rem Koolhaas, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Jeff Koons: Retrospettivamente, Milan, 2007, p. 70, illustrated (Yellow example)
Jorge S. Arango, "Shock to the System," House & Garden, September 2007, p. 184, illustrated in color (Magenta example)
Norbert Bisky, "Koons: Was macht die Kunst?," Vanity Fair, 2008, p. 40, illustrated in color (Orange example) 
Gabriela Walde, "Jeff Koons trifft in Berlin auf Paul Klee," Berliner Morgenpost, October 30, 2008, illustrated in color (installed in Neue Nationalgalerie) (Orange example) 
L. Ruano, "Jeff Koons - Neue Nationalgalerie Exhibition," Hypebeast, November 19, 2008, illustrated in color (Orange example)
Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 2009, p. 414, illustrated in color (Blue example), and p. 415, illustrated in color (Yellow example) 
Exh. Cat., Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Jeff Koons, 2012, p. 130, illustrated in color (installed in the exhibition Jeff Koons: Celebration, Berlin, 2008-9) (Orange example)
"Douglas Friedman Photographs Eugenio Lopez at Home for Cultured," Cultured, November 7, 2013, illustrated in color on the cover (Yellow example) 
"Collector Eugenio López Alonso Talks Art," LA Confidential Magazine, June 27, 2014, illustrated in color (Yellow example) 
Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art (and travelling), Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, 2014, p. 151, illustrated in color (being installed in a private residence, Los Angeles, 2009) (Yellow example) (New York), p. 159, illustrated in color (Yellow example), p. 161, illustrated in color (Yellow example) (Bilbao)
Manuela Lietti, "Latin America's mega-art collector Eugenio López Alonso and his La Colleción Jumex," Artron.net, March 10, 2015, illustrated in color (Yellow example) 

Catalogue Note

"Has Koons led art across the border…? We believe he has, but he has also embraced his past, so if we look forward and backward we have mirror images of art history. Koons has reached back into the baroque, streamed through the paintings of the French artist Gustave Courbet, crossed Constantin Brancusi’s mythology, grazed Marcel Duchamp’s philosophy, visited A.A. Milne’s rural world of Winnie-the-Pooh, skated on Andy Warhol’s surface, and landed on his own moon, celebrating and transcending with his art." (Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Jeff Koons, 2008, p. 8) Monumentally scaled and dazzlingly vivid, Elephant (Violet) encapsulates the aesthetic exuberance, artistic ambition, and searing individuality which characterize the singular work of Jeff Koons. Conceived in 1995-2000, the present work is a quintessential example from the artist’s widely acclaimed Celebration series; characterized by such iconic sculptures as Balloon Dog and Hanging Heart, Koons's Celebration sculptures seek to capture the jubilant awe of youth, vividly embodied within the universal forms and images surrounding holidays, parties, and other joyful occasions. Executed in stainless steel flawlessly finished with prismatic, jewel-like clarity, Elephant (Violet) is a unique work from a series of five, painstakingly rendered versions, each executed in its own saturated hue. In its grand scale and intoxicating, mirror-polished surface, Elephant (Violet) is powerfully emblematic of Koons's output, offering a seemingly whimsical, even playful archetype while demonstrating extraordinary technical virtuosity in the rendering of exquisitely perfected forms at staggering proportions. Testifying to the significance of the present work, an example of Elephant was included in the 2004 exhibition Jeff Koons: Retrospective, organized by the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, while similar monumental Celebration sculptures have been exhibited within and acquired by numerous prestigious museums worldwide. Acquired by David Teiger in 2004, the present work is revealed here for public exhibition for the first time; transformed by the setting and viewers which surround it, Elephant (Violet) is at once familiar and fantastical, both an imposing totem and irresistible toy, exemplifying the masterful conflation of seeming opposites which defines Koons's inimitable oeuvre.

Comprising sixteen paintings and over twenty sculptures, the mythic Celebration series originates from Koons’s desire to capture and recreate the ecstatic experiences of childhood. Drawing upon the celebratory—and highly commercialized—imagery of holidays and events held throughout the year, the subjects of the Celebration sculptures invoke colorful toys and glittering baubles, blown up to extraordinary proportions. The radiant coloration of the cycle, executed in a prismatic range of Technicolor hues, is likewise highly evocative of childhood; Koons reveals: "The way I’ve tried to treat color in Celebration, it’s just as simple as a pack of Crayola. You have red, you have blue, you have green….the color is bright, it’s fresh, and it’s direct." (The artist cited in Hans Wener Holzwarth, Jeff Koons, Cologne, 2009, p. 400) While elements of the series—everyday objects, childlike forms, mirror-polished surfaces—appear in the artist’s earlier output, in Celebration, Koons has translated these archetypes on a grand scale unanticipated by his prior work. Notoriously exacting in the standards he holds for his own creations, Koons's levels of formal perfection achieved new heights in the elaborate construction and demanding materials of the Celebration sculptures; as a result, the cycle, originally intended to premiere at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1996, was executed over more than a decade, with the artist spending years committed to achieving the desired outcome. The results, as seen in Elephant (Violet), are sculptures of such staggering technical precision and meticulous execution that the soaring steel sculpture appears, somehow, almost weightless. Describing the irresistible allure of the Celebration sculptures, curator Francesco Bonami describes: "All of his mirrored sculptures are there, ready to be lifted up in the sky defying their unlikely monumentality. Jeff Koons's subliminal goal is to create a new monumentality, a new language to celebrate the energy of humankind, the promised land of harmony among men and women, among children and adults." (Francesco Bonami in Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Jeff Koons, 2008, p. 15) A monument to the artist's unerring craftsmanship, Elephant (Violet) exemplifies the boundless artistic vision and ambition that characterize the monumental sculptures that have become Koons's signature works. Masterfully conflating luxury and banality, intricacy and simplicity, familiarity and novelty, the dazzling surface of the sculpture absorbs the entirety of its surrounding to emit the viewer’s own image, memories, and emotions, reflected within the flawless and radiant surface.