The retrospective of Jeff Koons hosted in the ethereal white Almine Rech gallery, London, is one that creates space for the artist to find self-acceptance (as he himself stated) in the process of putting forward to the viewer the means that allows one to be part and even alter some of the most celebrated paintings of the Old Masters.
“Koons goes further than Duchamp, who so famously described the viewer as the essential completer of the work of art, by literally embedding the viewer in his works of art, and as a result plays with their memories of childhood and, more recently, educated cultural experiences as they remember classical sculpture or the history of European painting dating from the Renaissance down to Picasso. (…) This all leads seamlessly into the concept of the blue glass gazing ball that Koons has now given, as though almost a gift, to some of the most decisive, at least as he regards them via museum encounters, masterpieces of Western European painting,” is said in the essay by Norman Rosenthal, part of the illustrated catalog Jeff Koons: The Shining of Time published by Almine Rech Gallery for the exhibition.
The self-titled exhibition features two ballerina ready-mades from the Antiquity series and numerous Gazing Ball paintings, all done in Koons’ workshop by him and the assistants in an extraordinary manner. Koons depicts all the elements that make a magnificent work of art from a classical perspective as the light or the details of each of the characters and adds signs of aging as the fading nuances or the subtle paint cracks.
“Really, this show celebrates giving it up to things outside yourself, things greater than yourself,” said Koons.
But the “Koons element” is the Blue Ball that mirrors the viewer and adds one to the scenery of a classical painting such as Giotto’s Kiss of Judas or Tintoretto’s The Origin of the Milky Way in consequence modifying both the perception of the viewer on the painting and the painting itself.
Jeff Koons exhibition is on view at Almine Rech Gallery until 21 January 2017.