press release

The highlight of the year at Tennis Palace Art Museum is the retrospective exhibition of Jeff Koons, the American artist turning 50 in January 2005. The show comprises 42 works from 1979-2004. Koons' adorably funny production consists of large-scale paintings, posters, sculptures in aluminium and steel, as well as ready-mades.

Jeff Koons is one of the most controversial artists of our time. Wherever the artist goes, he is pursued by a media storm. Ever since the mid-1980s, his personality and production have occasioned heated debates about commercialism in art and the meaning of art to the masses. Koons' works fetch enormous prices which currently ranks him among the ten most expensive contemporary artists in the world.

One of the basic themes in Jeff Koons' art is the world of consumerism, advertising and the media. The much-criticised commercialism of art is not a moral problem for Koons, but a given that is part of the artistic profession. Koons takes his subjects from the life of the American middle class and related phenomena. He wants to show people the glitter and glamour that lies hidden in everyday objects and consumer products. According to Koons, people should not be ashamed of their way of life but embrace their own culture and history.

Jeff Koons' art is often associated with Pop Art and kitsch. His works recurrently raise the question about the boundary between good and bad taste. What is it that makes basketballs or vacuum cleaners art? Why does a gilded sculpture of Michael Jackson adorn the collections of a major art museum? Is a drinks advertisement art when it is hung on a museum wall? How can a collection of pans hanging from the ceiling be worth millions?

In the early 1990s, Koons outraged some American audiences with his series "Made in Heaven", in which he posed as a model. As his partner he hired an Italian porn star, his future wife Ilona Staller, aka La Cicciolina. Replete with romantic love, the mood in the works softens their blatant sexuality. However, the love affair ended in divorce after only a few years.

In the past few years, Jeff Koons has returned to the themes of his older ready-mades. His latest pieces resemble his 1980s installations made of inflatable toys, but the material is now metal. In addition to sculptures, Jeff Koons now makes large paintings that are initially composed on a computer to make narrative collages.

The exhibition has been compiled by the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo. The exhibition is being sponsored by Anna magazine and supported by the US Embassy.

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Jeff Koons - Retrospektive