Jeff Koons at C&M Arts

Jeff Koons, Buster Keaton (1988), polychromed wood, 65-3/4″ x 50″ x 26-1/2″

* * *

A colleague recently chided me for shirking my responsibilities as a critic because I hadn’t made a peep about Jeff Koons and the 25-year overview of his art at C & M Arts. The remark suggests that Mr. Koons has something to tell us about art. He doesn’t, of course. An unctuous amalgam of Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol, Mr. Koons has based an entire career on demonstrating that high culture is a sham–hence the oversized, kitschy odes to Spalding basketballs, inflatable balloon dogs, Michael Jackson and (in a particularly unforgivable stroke) Buster Keaton.

Mr. Koons isn’t so principled in his anti-art ways that he declines the prestige accorded a Major Artist–you just know he wears that shit-eating grin all the way to the bank. I’m more curious about the rich folks who buy his stuff. Is it really that exciting to participate in one’s own swindling and debasement? Mr. Koons is a bona fide cultural phenomenon-the most egregious symptom of a scene so obsessed with the sensational that it doesn’t realize when it’s being suckered.

© 2004 Mario Naves

Originally published in the June 7, 2004 edition of The New York Observer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: