There has been news from different sources that there will be an installation of the works of Jeff Koons at the Musee du Louvre. This show is to coincide with the artist’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou. There has been a sort of a confirmation from The Louvre, conveying plans of an exhibition for early next year, but no word of possible lenders. On the other hand, the July issue of Vanity Fair contained reports of an exhibition with Koons’ already iconic pieces such as Balloon Rabbit, Balloon Swan and Balloon Monkey, which will be shown at the Louvre in January 2015. So, apart from PR and marketing reasons, why exactly is there so much mystery and cautious comments concerning this exhibition?
The reasons are surely in correlation with the story of Koons and Château de Versailles in 2008. And what a story it was – rightwing and leftwing discussion on art, protesters, media fueled controversies, and the heritage versus contemporary art discourse. After the rightwing protesters had gotten the answers to their questions from the minister of culture, saying that it is important to show your own heritage through a cultural act of a famous artist’s exhibition, the leftwing comments were pointed at the marginality of the conservative protestors, as well as the issues of museums becoming stages for contemporary art. However, the biggest controversy concerned the involvement of François Pinault who had lent six out of seventeen works on show. Le Monde wrote of possible conflict of interest, claiming that the show will benefit the private owners, raising the value of the artwork, and had written as well of the connection between the chairman of the Château de Versailles and Pinault.
In a recent interview, Koons emphasized that all we need is right beside us. Talking about the inspiration for his art, Koons implied that the popular culture surrounding us has all the information one needs to feel excitement about an “object”. Herein lies a particular paradox of the hyperreality of the contemporary symbolic universe we call popular culture – when a creator of meaning (artist) returns to the chaotic domain of reproduced and re-reproduced imagery of the cultural sphere so he can find inspiration and new meaning, what exactly is the “value” of information that Koons speaks of?
It seems as though Koons has managed to be the (absolute?) ruler of this chaotic domain. Just like the collaboration with H&M stores, for example. Koons has managed to create art from popular culture, present it as “high” culture, return the imagery “back into” the symbolic universe of pop-art, and all the way being present in the international financial market. However, we are, as a public, used to Koons’ endeavors, although we might not be sure what they mean. It is a perfect opportunity to contemplate upon all of these issues during the retrospective in New York, which has already began. And, for those in Europe, to wait for the collection to arrive to France and Spain during 2015.
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