Jeff Koons is a self-proclaimed distinct artist born in 1955, who is a resident of New York: USA, where majority of his artworks exhibit. The common artwork of the artist include the inflatable balloons toys and the pink panther, beside the life-size ceramic model of the late pop star Michael Jackson holding his favourite pet, chimpanzee babbles as shown below.
According to Raine, Koons became famous for his unique artwork, which exhibited massively as a culture of iconography (1). The art was celebrated as a banality, which captured the taste of the middle-class earners. Political attack or most certainly resistance of the art forms by the public often isolates Jeff Koons’ work from other forms. Like other artists such as Pablo Picasso, who was concern with modernism, Koons’ artwork especially the celebration of banality faces criticism due to people’s different personal values.
Pollock’s argument that “feminist and Marxist approaches to art history should not work separately, but should combine to a more unified theory of social art history (18),” show that social complexities such as race, class differences ought to strengthen a piece of artwork.
Impression Presented by Banality
Jeff Koons tries to nurture views to people who can stand by their own taste and preferences through personal judgement as opposed to following influences. His response to banality is therefore as a move towards fighting guilt and shame. Jeff often urges that his venture to banality was to empower those in the middle class known as bourgeois to be imaginative, especially those who are conservative and materialistic, whose aim is to exploit the working class.
According to his argument, people deny their true being because of social differences and the urge to belong to a better social class (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1). Koons’ work is that of a post-modernism artist that highlights the social needs such as health needs for people in the twenty first century.
Post-modernism is a reaction towards consumerism, where the art accepts and cerebrate the emerging banalities (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1). A good example is the art of food that anticipates the banality of obesity or other food related affluences.
The health and social affluences such as health complications are highly concentrated with the middle class or the lower social-economic categories that are rigid to take awareness strategies critically. The artist therefore has an alternative strategy of ironically presenting the banalities of affluence instead of endorsing promotional activities that people are not ready to embrace.
Iconography Vs Interpretation
Jeff Koons is also trying to emphasize that the adventure of modern art is long overdue. Contemporary art does not therefore transcend and diverge from the past or towards the future. According to Pollock, modern art is today based on reality such that its operations are real-time not distinguishable through the technical, or digital categories among others (47).
One such magnificent art is the Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture that comprises visually complicated art, but one that presents viewers with ambiguous perceptions and interpretations. Critical analysis of the sculpture shows that the view is allowed to make personal association. The portrait is styled in various ways with additional aspects that diverts from the pop star’s lifestyle appearance. The artist primarily creates a layer of meaning using porcelain.
This light coloured medium presents the portraits skin colour as that of the white race. The viewers are aware that the pop star was a black man and absence of black or dark colour might be taken as a hateful sign among observers. What about the pet chimpanzee, babbles that can also be easily picked as an insulting typecast to the black community due to historical derogatory considerations. The interpretation can easily go beyond the pet portrait.
The colour is a sharp contrast to the natural hue, since the portrait is gold and porcelain white except for the eyes and mouth. Gold colour can have different interpretations such as; the artwork is a luxury wealth masterpiece or it interprets sovereignty. Michael Jackson figure represents an iconic celebrity and therefore the sculpture may imply that celebrities have royal cultures. Jeff Koons’ work is therefore characterized more by interpretation than iconography.
Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture
Kitsch Vs Art
On the line or royalty and aristocracy, Astrap Fearnley Museum of art indicates that ceramic can present art as well as universally democratized and make all art to follow common style (1).
The ceramics were initially considered to be high-class art styles, but later transformed to middle-class aesthetics and eventually they are common in contemporary high-class art works such as the Michael Jackson sculpture. There is indication that banality expressionism is today levelling the differences between art and kitsch. In relation to Wolff’ argument, the class has huge impact on forms of arts especially the production (52).
Finished artwork requires ample amount of resources particularly monetary funding to display in museums or sell in a galleries/exhibitions. Capital and social power are requirements for fostering the art in museums, journal article and as a topic of discussion in curriculums. The high-class ideology is thus a major stepping-stone, but contrary, kitsch is more popular among masses because of the involved uniqueness.
Kitsch is an ideology of artwork that was an outcome since the end of the modernism-art era. The separation between kitsch and art has caused a prosperous foundation that inspires conceptual artists like Jeff Koons. Arguably, Koons’ sculpture of Michael Jackson represented the mixture and not the distinction since the statuette is in a predominant location of a museum, with well-labelled tags representing aspects of high arts.
On the other hand, the non-ancient particularly gold-painted ceramics are rare in main museums. The “Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art” in Oslo Norway houses the Michael Jackson sculpture and they emphasis on the way Jeff Koons emphasized the taste of the middle class through use of various elements (1).
Marxist Perspective or Art
Marxist’s style of analysing art has a basis on its history of production, social class, documentation and consumption. According to Wolff, if one would consider the social reasons for inventing an artwork, “art historians should extend this idea one step further and recognize that art itself participates in one or more ideologies (54).”
In line with her interpretation, “the term ideology refers to as a system of beliefs characteristic of a particular class or group (54).” Artists have different ideologies depicted on their artworks. The final production is thus an ideological creation or activity. Industrialized art works are easy to duplicate and cheaper for the purchasing power of the common person in the working class. The baroque style of production may contrary represent the luxury imitation of upper class by the middle class.
Jeff koons’ Iconic Pink Panther
In May 2010, the Pink Panther sculpture hanging on a bare back of a pretty light-coloured feminine figure by Jeff Koons fetched approximately $30 million at Sotheby contemporary art auction (Pollock, 39). The sculpture made from porcelain was also one of the banality collections.
Like the other outstanding copies at the “Museum of modern art in New York”, “Museum of contemporary Art in Chicago” and Private collections. Pink panther was outstanding in the artist career. The represented reality fails to capture the attention of the heart as well as human feelings or presentation overcomes the situation. There is little research that forms a clear critic over Koons’ style of handling sexuality.
The Pink Panther sculpture indicates his obsession with sexuality and gender based desires. The themes that touch on such banality aspects like sex, celebrity, awkward commerce, race and media are better aspects of addressing materialism, consumerism, contemporary lifestyles, and class or power differences (Pollock, 47). Arguably, his consideration of life was that a simple subject makes the work to be a philosophical dissertation for the social issues concerning artwork.
Jeff koons’ Iconic Pink Panther
In Marxist point of view, “it is hardly surprising that some members of the art institution are less than thrilled about kitsch’s appearance in the high art world.” When Jeff Koons was asked about his artworks, the emphasis was on the need to represent the natural feeling in the work. Most artist would not with to be labelled Kitsch since it is associable to middle and low class. Koons’ arts are nevertheless found in major museums.
His works are a clear profession of Kitsch but acceptable as art because he is able to find marketing strategies such as use of seductive finishing that indicates luxury, flawlessness and quality (Raine, 1). These are high-class ideologies that cause recognition of the artworks. The artist is thus a friend to Kitsch and the taste of the middle-class, but has high-class marketing techniques. He alleviate the middleclass themes to upper-class levels and in accordance to Marxist theory, this cross-class revolution may either imply revolution of exploitation.
Astrap Fearnley Museum of art. “Jeff Koons” Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. 2011. Web. 3 May 2011.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Jeff Koons on the Roof” Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2011. Web. 3 May 2011.
Pollock, Griselda. “Vision, Voice, and Power: Feminist Art Histories and Marxism.” Vision and Difference, London: Routledge, 1988. 18-49. Print.
Raine, Craig, “The inventive art world of Jeff Koons.” London Evening Standard, 25 May 2010. Web. 3 May 2011.
Wolff, Janet. The Social Production of Art. Second Ed. New York: New York University Press, 1993. pg. 54. Print
Jeff Koons’ Iconic Pink Panther Sculpture to Highlight Sotheby’s Spring Sale of Contemporary Art