All Photographs: Christian Grattan
Art is a “platform for the future,” Jeff Koons announced at yesterday’s press conference at the Whitney. What that means is anyone’s guess, but he followed that up by explaining that he’s 59 and hopes to be making art for at least another three decades. In short, while this may be his first New York retrospective, it won’t be his last. The retrospective opens this Friday, June 27th, and runs until October 19th, and will include work from 1978 through 2014.
Spanning all but the fifth floor of the museum, and including more than 150 works in all shapes in sizes, its not hard to see what a mammoth undertaking the show must have been for the museum. The insurance costs alone could have been crippling. Precedent, too, has not been good. In 1996, the Guggenheim scheduled and rescheduled a retrospective with the artist, only to abandon the idea. The cost of fabricating pieces in the “Celebration” series, which is defined by large scale stainless steel and plastics, was cited as one reason for the cancellation. Those issues are reportedly still an issue, though no longer insurmountable.
And so, perhaps it’s not too surprising that the Whitney staff all proudly bore incredulous grins yesterday as they promoted the show—as if launching the show was an achievement unimaginable even a few years ago. Whitney Director Adam Weinberg spoke of Koons’s “commitment to perfection,” his “exacting” mind, and his obsession with his artwork. Perhaps more meaningfully, Donna De Salvo, the Museum’s chief curator, spoke of the need for a more cohesive narrative for his work, saying, “The ubiquitous nature of the work does not mean that we know it.” In an effort to address the need for a more complete perspective, show curator Scott Rothkopf told audiences of his interest in assembling key works from each series to expose the diversity of ideas and approaches Koons brought to the table.
Koons’s work is known to be divisive, so there are many likely to take issue with that perspective. Readers can come to their own conclusions by clicking through our preview slideshow and visiting the show at the Whitney once it opens this Friday.