Sandwiches (from the series Easyfun-Ethereal)
Oil on canvas
10 x 14 feet (304.8 x 426.7 cm).
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,
(From the Guggenheim website) This work, along with others in Easyfun-Ethereal, is part of Koons's new brand of Pop painting (Neo-Pop), recalling in particular the advertising iconography and billboard-style painting technique present in James Rosenquist's canvases. In Sandwiches the artist refers to this predecessor by including the glistening chrome of a 1963 Chevy Impala at the upper right corner. At the same time, the collage of animated deli meats, the turkey made of ice cream, and the cartoon eye and moustache recall the free-associative imagery of Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, and René Magritte, while the background streams and splashes of milk echo Jackson Pollock's abstractions. Koons's fusion of Pop representations with Surrealist and abstract overtones creates a hybrid of fun and fantasy, yielding a body of work that depicts gravity-defying forms of dreamlike pleasure.
Neo-Pop artist Jeff Koons (American, b.1955) inspires conflicted reactions to his over-sized sculptures of banal—and sometimes shocking—objects; some consider his work art historically significant, others view him as an attention-seeker who panders to the high art world. Educated at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Maryland, he was initially supported by his career on Wall Street. By the early 1980s, Koons was able to found a studio staffed by assistants. Most famous for enlarged objects such as Puppy and his huge sculptures of inflated balloons, Koons also works in series of paintings, prints, and collage, stating he attempts “to make a body of work that anybody could enjoy.”
Read this article and take notes:
1. How does Koons' work parallel that of Rosenquist and of the Pop artists who he is clearly inspired by?
2. Art history plays a critical role in Koons' work - explain.
3. Koons is considered controversial by those who think he is more of a "businessman" than an "artist." What is your opinion?