1144
1144

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EAST COAST COLLECTION

Jeff Koons
GAZING BALL (VAN GOGH WHEATFIELD WITH CROWS)
Estimate
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Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
7,000,00010,000,000
LOT SOLD. 9,175,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
1144

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EAST COAST COLLECTION

Jeff Koons
GAZING BALL (VAN GOGH WHEATFIELD WITH CROWS)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
7,000,00010,000,000
LOT SOLD. 9,175,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

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Hong Kong

Jeff Koons
B.1955
GAZING BALL (VAN GOGH WHEATFIELD WITH CROWS)
signed and dated 2015 on the overlap
oil on canvas, glass and aluminium
116.8 by 224.2 by 37.5 cm.   46 by 96⅛ by 14¾ in.
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Provenance

Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jeff Koons: Gazing Ball Paintings, November - December 2015, cat. no. 26, illustrated in colour

Literature

Bill Powers, “Some People Think What I’ve Done Is Almost Sacrilege: A Talk with Jeff Koons”, Artnews, 7 March 2016
Alexa Lawrence, “The New York Art Shows You Need to See Right Now”, Architectural Digest, 15 December 2015, illustrated in colour
Bob Lansroth, “Jeff Koons Exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery Presents Gazing Balls - A Showcase of The Artist's Three-Dimensional Objects Conjured on Canvas”, Widewalls, 18 November 2015, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

The gazing ball represents the vastness of the universe and at the same time the intimacy of right here, right now.

Jeff Koons


Employing a quotation of what is believed to be the last work by Vincent van Gogh, Gazing Ball (van Gogh Wheatfield with Crows) from 2015 powerfully embodies the beauty and complexity of Jeff Koons’s Gazing Ball series. Positioned at the centre of the vast expanse of the canvas, the hand-blown blue glass ball enacts an irreverent intervention on the Dutch post-Impressionist master’s historical landscape whilst relaying a distorted reflection of its environment. Radiating an alluring elegance, the globe’s mercurial hues manifest a prism that liquifies all imagery captured within, offering a visual experience of constant flux. As a successor of sorts to Constantin Brancusi’s innovative employment of the highly polished surface, Koons’s Gazing Ball series aligns with the artist’s own iconic aesthetic of the shiny and the flawlessly reflective. Primed for a journey down the winding path through van Gogh’s historical wheatfield, Koons’s brilliant cobalt sphere absorbs past, future, and the instantaneous present, embodying an otherworldly space or a porthole towards an alternate universe. A phenomenon of visual-somatic experience that creates a metaphysical dialogue with art history, the present work is at once familiar and fantastical, exemplifying the masterful conflation of seeming opposites which defines Koons’s inimitable oeuvre.

With Gazing Ball (van Gogh Wheatfield with Crows), Koons offers an abstract vision of time in which history exists in a continuum; as Francesco Bonami describes, “He looks at History and Art History as were they private lawns where his gaze can wander randomly and freely… Time in Koons’ work is eventually irrelevant” (Francesco Bonami, “A Kind of Blue”, in Exh. Cat., New York, David Zwirner Gallery, Jeff Koons: Gazing Ball, 2013, n. p.). Koons creates a tension between the reproduction of van Gogh’s esteemed masterpiece in the collection of van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam with the ephemeral ever-changing image reflected in the immaculate gazing ball. Essential to Koons’s practice is a consideration of the viewer’s gaze and the presence of his reflection in the work which he first explored in his 1986 stainless steel sculpture Rabbit. Koons engages with the philosophy of embrace, establishing symbiotic relationships between viewers, the object, and the spaces that they share. For Koons, the environment around the artwork is as important to the conceptual foundation of the piece as the artwork itself. He is interested in the generosity offered by a work of art through its encounter with the viewer, an exchange that he both reveals and heightens in his illuminating façades. The artist has said: “It constantly reminds viewers of their existence, of your existence, it’s all about you. When you leave the room, it’s gone. When you move, the abstraction takes place; nothing happens without you, it needs you. It’s visually so abstract that it always made me think of generosity” (Jeff Koons, “Dialogues on Self-Acceptance”, in Exh. Cat., Riehen/Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Jeff Koons, 2012, pp. 35-36).

In the manner of Marcel Duchamp’s appropriation of everyday objects as ‘readymades’ and his reinterpretation of historical masterpieces in works such as L.H.O.O.Q., Koons’s Gazing Ball series is part of a lineage of radical art - yet also firmly rooted in a specific time and place. Koons presents the talisman of the gazing ball from his hometown of York, Pennsylvania, where glass globes often ornament suburban lawns or gardens, mounted on pillars and reflecting their rural surroundings. This tradition inspired Koons for the way in which this decorative orb creates a shared experience between neighbors, reflecting his own attraction to the power of art to offer wonderment and generosity. Pairing the gazing ball with an antiquity whose very nature proffers the vaulted pantheon of art history, the spectacular finish and precision of the ball’s ideal beauty juxtaposed with its popular use value as lawn decoration conflates the highly ordinary with the surreal, fueling a debate about taste that is paradigmatic of Koons’s conceptual project. Here the artist proposes an equilibrium between suburbia and fantasy, and between contemporary mass culture and the venerable annals of history. Arguing for the appreciation of mass-appeal imagery, Koons traffics in the arbitrary distinctions between high and low art, positioning his output in the uncharted territory between the predetermined polar categories.

Growing up in York, Koons’s father ran Henry J. Koons Decorators, through which Koons came to understand how the middle-class endow material goods and décor with their deepest aspirations. His father’s elaborate furniture displays and window tableaux showcased precise arrangements of decorative goods that promised social mobility to the residents of the community, and installed mirrors around every corner to make shoppers aware of their presence – a strategy Koons continues to employ in his sculpture, as evidenced by the present work. Enveloped in the sociology of aesthetics, Koons invokes a challenging poetics of class, revealing the emotional investments crystallised in objects and presenting a stimulating commentary on the nature of objecthood and material culture in America. Conflating high art and the decorative, the handcrafted and the engineered, and the original and the appropriated, Gazing Ball (van Gogh Wheatfield with Crows) speaks to the very heart of Koons’s artistic praxis, manifesting as a prime example of the artist’s widely celebrated oeuvre.

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong