Jeff Koons needs no detailed introduction – he has become an international art superstar and is known for holding a number of records on the art market. In addition, he is one of the most collectable living artists working today. We have come to know his activities as being philanthropic, but also, always with a cloud of controversy when it comes to his work. In an interview for i-D magazine, Jeff Koons has been answering questions from fashion designers who feel inspired and influenced by the artist’s work, namely Gareth Pugh, Walter van Beirendonk, Bernhard Willhelm and Jeremy Scott. In the coming paragraphs, find out what is the focus of Koons’ life at the moment; apart from balloons and shiny things, read about the artist’s rapport with philosophy, regrets, but also some of the activities connected with the artist’s plans for the future. Find out new things about the icon of contemporary popular culture and art, and if you are in need of more – check out last summer's interview with Charlie Rose…
When answering an interesting question of what he would do if invisible for a day, Koons said, perhaps unexpectedly, but quite logically, that he would spend that time at a museum. Many of us have been certainly wondering what would the artist do if he wasn’t in the art world, and what Koons had to say was quite intriguing – “Philosophy. When I was younger the only thing I prepared for was to be an artist. I learned how art functioned as this hub, and through art I could dabble in philosophy, psychology, sociology, physics and everything else, all the disciplines. That’s what makes art really so wonderful.” For Pugh’s question concerning the artist’s obsession with balloons, Koons talked about the influence in early childhood and continued to say that “…they’re [balloons] like people. You inflate them and they’re like us in breathing, but in complete reversal because there’s a density inside us and in a balloon it’s just emptiness and air. The density’s on the outside.”
When talking about his favorite artwork, Koons said that if he had to choose, it would be “Venus of Willendorf (a stone statuette dating back to 1908).” Although he said that he is not a collector of toys, there is inspiration all around him when it comes to his children’s toys, and went on to say that “…everything is in play… everything is useful.” Answering the question of Walter van Beirendonk about the artist’s muse, Koons replied shortly and directly – “my wife.”
We have come to know that Koons’ practice incorporates good-heartedness and charitable work. “Could I give somebody a million dollars without something back? I hope that I’ve done that, or at least I’ve tried to give the best work that I can. It hasn’t been about giving money, but hopefully it’s been about giving something.” When talking about regrets, the artist seems to convey an aura of melancholy, referring to the time when he was younger – “My only regret would be that when you’re younger you don’t realize what you have. […] I learned later in life how important education was. As soon I started to feel a sense of enlightment I’ve always tried to participate in it.” Koons went on to say that he is currently focusing on new work – he has been creating sculptures as well as a series of paintings.
Koons said that what attracted him most about shiny things reflects the time when he was a child. “…the reason I like shiny things comes from my background growing up in Pennsylvania. People out there put mercury balls in their yards, which are reflective glass balls, and they sit them on bird baths. My rabbit was always a reference to that.” Koons has also said that he is working on new cannon pieces: “Some of them are toys so they don’t function. But then I’m making some authentic reproductions, from Civil War cannons, and they function.” Not surprisingly, the artist says he finds the celebrity culture amazing and goes on to say that it is a field which can show our weaknesses: “If something is repeated or displayed automatically it takes on a sense of significance, whether it has any significance in our life or not. But just through that repetition it takes on significance.”