One of the highlights of this past year in New York was the much celebrated Jeff Koons Retrospective at the Whitney Museum, which seemed to draw in huge crowds and mostly applause.
One of my favorites has always been his Balloon Dogs- because I love dogs, and love colorful balloons.
I was shopping online one day browsing at some new “Sale of the Day Site," and I saw the Balloon Dogs! Obviously replicas, in varied sizes (small, medium and large) colors. Well I went crazy and had to buy them all! They were relatively inexpensive (immensely inexpensive compared to the $25k-30k price tag now on the blue and red original editions that I sell quite frequently)
When Hamburg Kennedy was invited to participate in last years Affordable Art Fair, I thought to bring these beauties with me and have them on the table. It was as if I was giving away free diamonds- after doing about 50 art fairs over the last 3+ decades, I have never had quite a buzz around my booth. I was not even selling them but giving them away to clients and charging very little for some who begged to buy them. It made me quizzical about the power of these sculptures and why people love them. Is it because they know it is a Jeff Koons replica or would they love it regardless if they had any name or image recognition?
He has broken a world record for a price paid for a single artwork by a living artist. "Balloon Dog (Orange)" fetched $58,405,000 at a Christie's New York auction. The description of the work in the Christie's catalogue calls it "one of the most recognizable images in today's canon of art history," and "the most beloved of all contemporary sculptures."
I am still unsure but one thing I know is that he was able to do something in contemporary art in the latter part of the 20th century that has to go down in history and heralded in a whole new type of Pop Art that he inherited from Andy Warhol. Koons crafts a singular brand of luxury, peppered with human experience and hints of universal truths that have the power to allure an audience and cancel out the intimidation factor that so often construes art to be an upper-class commodity or conceptually incomprehensible. While the work is a summation of fertility, childhood, and a mind space free from judgement, he is using his influence and resources to bring art to a wider audience, where prior knowledge, education, and networking is not necessary.