Has it ever happened to you?
You’re invited somewhere and when you get there the people who invited you are not ready. They still have to shower, peel the potatoes and put the roast in the oven.
This was the case at the inauguration of the new Jeff Koons exhibition at the David Zwirner Gallery. The invitation read 6pm. On the door it said 6.30pm. But the anxious crowd was kept waiting outside much longer than that. A truck pulled up and everybody had to clear the way. A huge crate was handled with care and wheeled into the gallery. A last minute addition to the collection? Eventually the dismantled crate was brought out in pieces and finally people were let in, welcomed by David Zwirner who opened the door himself!
The crowd rushed in, as in a first come first served event. Surely suspense had been building up. But once inside, there was like a general feeling of “That’s it?”.
Jeff Koons has introduced a blue glass ball as the common element throughout his new collection. The glass ball is a familiar feature that Koons remembers from the front yards of his younger days Pennsylvania. It’s a shiny and fascinating object that reflects its surroundings in a distorted way. It offers a different look on reality. And at the same time a glass ball speaks to the imagination.
The blue balls are combined with white plaster Greco-Roman sculptures. The matted surface of the white sculptures stands in blatant contrast with the dark blue shine of the glass balls.
The surprise effect is there. Our eyes are not used to see classical sculpture combined with anything else. Classical sculpture is complete and does not need anything added to it. In this way, the glass balls look like foreign objects, not belonging to the sculpture, as if they were bubbles that have collided accidentally with the figures.
In some cases the balls look extremely odd. In some cases the balls are added in a most unnatural and unbalanced way (against the principles of antique sculpture!). Sometimes, and again very oddly, this off-balance seems to work. But other times the ball just seems to dangle precariously from the sculpture and risks to become a disturbing element.
The artist even adds to the surprise by incorporating a few sculptures that have nothing to do with ancient gods or mythology : a birdbath, a series of mailboxes,…a snowman. Surprise? Confusion?
What is clear is the fact that Koons is the most successful American artist since Andy Warhol. And as a living art legend, he certainly works in strange ways this time.
Gazing Ball – Jeff Koons, David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th street, NYC, through June 29, 2013