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Koons Lampoon: Joy to the Met, Sorrow at LACMA


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Jeff Koons in yesterday’s press scrum at the Metropolitan Museum’s roof garden

Memo to the Metropolitan Museum: Does the artworld really need another high-profile showcase for Jeff Koons‘ faux inflatables? Is it particularly desirable to borrow two of them from the coveted private collection of Steve Cohen, whose loans have recently been seen enriching just about every New York art museum? If you throw in one more piece, owned by Louis Vuitton’s foundation, does that make it just about perfect? (Speaking of which, I mercifully neglected to mention previously that there’s a gallery of Cohen-owned Murakamis at the end of that artist’s Vuitton-selling retropective at the Brooklyn Museum. The museum’s shop even offers an $800 print reproducing one of Cohen’s paintings, so you too can feel like a munificent hedge-fund king!)

But back to Koons: Below is a photo of the Metropolitan Museum’s lightweight 15,600-pound roof garden installation (associate curator Anne Strauss weighed in with that hefty figure), consisting of two familiar-looking puffed-up pieces (although these particular Cohen-ies have never been previously exhibited) and the Vuitton-loaned “Coloring Book”—a silvery, stainless steel Piglet (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame), exuberantly colored outside the lines to the point of unrecognizability. I enjoyed that piece, in spite of the Met’s inflated assertion that it’s about “childhood—as well as adult—dreams and fantasies about candy and luxury goods, intermixed with religious imagery.” I just don’t see the profundity that museum curators like to ascribe to these baubles. I’d sooner rely on Koons, who told reporters that his works are about “joy.”

At least there were no gleaming bunnies on the roof. Here’s the entire three-piece ensemble:

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Left to right: “Balloon Dog (Yellow),” 1994-2000, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Collection; “Coloring Book,” 1997-2005, Foundation Louis Vuitton pour la création; “Sacred Heart (Red/Gold),” 1994-2007, Cohen Collection

Here’s the piglet:

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Another view of “Coloring Book”

There had been some thought of including Koons’ “Tulips” at the Met, but Strauss told me that the piece “took too much space.” I should have asked if this was the same bouquet, owned by mega-collector Eli Broad‘s foundation, which was recently removed from the plaza outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s new Broad Contemporary Art Museum because it had been damaged by over-enthusiastic visitors. (Probably not: Suzanne Muchnic of the LA Times reported on Apr. 12 that the Broad version was about to be “shipped to Germany for repair in the
factory that fabricated it. The undisclosed—but certainly steep—cost will be paid by the museum’s insurance.”)

I never miss the chance to photograph an image of myself reflected in an artwork (especially with the Manhattan skyline as backdrop), so here I am. Color me purple and perplexed:

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