Archive for the ‘Jeff Koons’ Category

Trains, cranes and museums


Tyler Green says of Jeff Koons’ project for outside LACMA, the L.A. County Museum of Art,

“This is unrelated to the proposed Koons ‘train’ at LACMA, but what the heck…

I like that “rhyme” and wish I’d thought of it (after all, Montparnasse, where this occurred, was my train station when I lived in Paris and that image was all around)

but Koon’s project to me has always “rhymed with”

Moshe Safdie’s design (unbuilt) for the Stuttgart Museum of Contemporary Art (1990).

Unlike Koon’s proposal, Safdie’s had a practical function

“Served by a giant crane, the temporary galleries could be moved and transferred to off-site storage when not in use…. When not being used, the crane would stand motionless like a spire, but would appear to transform itself into a symbol of change while in use, as it swung to position new works or convert temporary galleries for upcoming exhibitions.”

And unlike L.A., Stuttgart does not suffer earthquakes, that I know of.

And although it’s very different in tone, reason and purpose – while we’re talking Moshe Safdie, let’s remember, with respect, that a little later, around 1991 – 1994, he designed the Yad Vashem Transports Memorial.

(Click on either catalog image to enlarge it.)

Build me an art crusher


A modest proposal. Since these

glossy, junky works by Jeff Koons will soon fill
Mies van der Rohe’s distinguished New National Gallery in Berlin

Can we ratchet down the roof on them?

A good use for an art museum. To crush bad art put inside of it.

I recently wasted an hour at the Jeff Koons exhibition in Chicago (closing September 21). It was far too much time to spend there. You can learn more about life today – and have a better time – by simply walking through the aisles of your local supermarket. Then I saw the same damn works by Jeff Koons again at BCAM in Los Angeles. Yes, they’re commodities.

Large, colorful and shiny, Koons’ stuff looks like it might have something to say, but after even a moment, boredom sets in and you’re ready to move on to the next piece of glitz in his charm bracelet of an oeuvre. Walking through a Koons exhibition is like clicking the remote on daytime TV cartoons and soap operas.

A Koons piece might be cute, but not clever. Funny, but not witty. It might be about sex, but not sexy. He offers a shallow youth-obsessed culture and status symbols to play with. Spending time with his baubles makes me feel like a sucker.

I agree with Tom Freudenheim’s estimation of Jeff Koons in the Wall Street Journal.
Tom and I spoke of Koons while walking to the Bernini show now at the Getty Center in Los Angeles (Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture – through October 26.) Once there, it was tragic to think of Jeff Koons, so we didn’t, and life improved.

The Bernini exhibition is a miracle. Drawings and bronzes and marbles (hand-made! Artists actually used to do that!) You meet the characters in Bernini’s 17th century neighborhood – the Vatican. You get to know them, their worries and their joys. Some of the heads seem to want to lean over and whisper an old joke in your ear. The sculptor showed off, in the best of all ways. With a prodigious talent and a profound curiosity about the human condition and the human drama and where our deepest emotions lead us

(That vein in the marble is more beautiful than anything in Jeff Koon’s polished plastic surgery world.)

Bernini shows how emotions and soul are displayed on our faces, our hands, the clothes we wear, in our medals and postures, in the breath in our chests that comes out through the mouths he sculpts whose lips are always in stopped motion and whose eyes tend to yearn.

In Bernini’s portraits of Popes and Cardinals and Kings wealthy businessmen and his mistress, you are pushed back as a viewer by their ambitions, seen in the ways they hold power in their bodies.

You can tell after while which of the leaders is a fraud. Which stand for good and which don’t. One or two of the powerful men in marble simply would not look at me, no matter where I stood.

These works are displayed without protective glass, in a gorgeous installation that evokes Bernini’s era and milieu. It is a true wonder to see up close, enough Berninis to follow his development, and not so many that you’re overloaded, as happens in Italy. The number of sculptures allows us to see the range of human emotions. Bernini, despite the hypocrisy of his age, retained faith in humanity.

In this day when elitism is condemned, it’s good to remember what good it can bring us. Koons and Bernini both needed patrons. That hasn’t changed. The quality of the thought and the art has. Bernini’s complexity raises questions and takes positions. You know that the thinks that Thomas Baker, the English businessman who could pay more than a king for a portrait by Bernini, is simply a buffoon. You see this in the way Bernini lays his mop of a coif’ on top of his blank eyes.

There’s not much inside. It’s all for show. Self-love is empty. Would that Jeff Koons would take such a stand!

If you’re in L.A. see Bernini. If you’re in Berlin, huff and puff and hope the roof falls.

Top two Bernini photographs courtesy of the Getty
Third and fourth Bernini photographs: Monica Almeida/The New York Times, which has a wonderful slideshow and review by Holland Cotter.

Bottom Bernini photo of Thomas Baker: Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England