Jeff Koons Biography
Jeffrey L. Koons is an American artist recognized for his work dealing with popular culture and his sculptures depicting everyday objects, including balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces. He lives and works in both New York City and his hometown of York, Pennsylvania. His works have sold for substantial sums, including at least two record auction prices for a work by a living artist: $58.4 million for Balloon Dog (Orange) in 2013 and $91.1 million for Rabbit in 2019.
Critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons. Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others dismiss his work as Kitsch, crass, and based on cynical self-merchandising. Koons has stated that there are no hidden meanings and critiques in his works.
How old is Jeff Koons? – Age
The American artist is 66 years old as of 21st January 2021. He was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, United States.
Who are Jeff Koons Parents? – Father and mother
The American artist is born as the son to Henry and Gloria Koons. His father was a furniture dealer and interior decorator. His mother was a seamstress. When he was nine years old, his father would place old master paintings that Koons copied and signed in the window of his shop in an attempt to attract visitors. As a child he went door-to-door after school selling gift-wrapping paper and candy to earn pocket money.
Jeff Koons Siblings
The American artist is not the only child in their family. He has one sibling, by the name; Karen Koons. They were both raised together with love and support from their parents.
Jeff Koons Education
The American artist studied painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. While a student at the Art Institute, he met the artist Ed Paschke, who became a major influence and for whom Koons worked as a studio assistant in the late 1970s.
Is Jeff Koons in a Relationship? – Spouse
Yes, the American artist is in love. He is a married man. He is currently married to Justine Wheeler, an artist and former employee who began working in Koons’ studio in 1995. The couple are parenting their children together. The family currently lives in an Upper East side townhouse.
Previously, the artist was married to Hungarian-born naturalized-Italian pornography star Ilona Staller who at the time was a member of the Italian Parliament (1987–92). Koons and Staller lived in Munich. In 1992, they had a son, Ludwig. The marriage ended soon afterward amid allegations that Koons had subjected Staller to physical and emotional abuse.
Jeff Koons Children
The American artist fathered a daughter, Shannon Rodgers. The couple put the child up for adoption. Shannon Rodgers reconnected with Koons in 1995. He has children with his wife, Justine Wheeler. The couple is parenting six children together. Namely; Ludwig Maximillian Koons, Sean Kyah Koons, Shannon Rodgers, Scarlet Koons, Blake Koons, Kurt Koons, Eric Koons.
Jeff Koons Career
The American artist rose to prominence in the mid-1980s as part of a generation of artists who explored the meaning of art in a media-saturated era. He gained recognition in the 1980s and subsequently set up a factory-like studio in a SoHo loft on the corner of Hoston street and Broadway in New York. It was staffed with over 30 assistants, each assigned to a different aspect of producing his work – in a similar mode as Andy Warhol’s Factory. He work is produced using a method known as art fabrication.
The artist released his most controversial series, Made in Heaven in 1990. This consisted of large photographs and sculptures depicting him nude and in sexually explicit acts with Ilona Staller, the famed Italian porn star also known as Ciccolina. Having seen Staller featured in European magazines, he flew to Rome to suggest they collaborate, and this resulted in the photographic sessions that formed the basis for the series. During their time together, the two fell in love, despite neither speaking the other’s language.
Brazenly flouting conventions of good taste, the series elicited an overwhelmingly condemnatory response from critics, threatening to dethrone Koons from art world preeminence. Ultimately, however, Made in Heaven proved the adage that any publicity is good publicity. News from Missouri to Helsinki covered Koons’ outrageous suite of pictures, and his subsequent engagement to Staller. Staller and Koons married in 1991 and had a son, Ludwig, in 1992. The marriage broke up soon after and Staller returned to Italy with Ludwig, prompting Koons to destroy many of the works in the series and instigating a custody battle for their son that continued for over a decade.
During the early 1990s, Koons was sued several times for copyright infringement over his use of commercial and artistic source material in his pieces. The cases were all upheld and included the prominent Koons vs Rogers in which Art Rogers, a professional photographer, agreed an out of court settlement with Koons after it was demonstrated that Koons’ sculpture String of Puppies (1988) from the Banality series was a copy of the Rogers’ photograph Puppies (1985).
Originally conceived in 1994 the Celebration series is still being manufactured today and consists of 20 highly polished stainless steel designs, each of which has been produced in different colors. All the objects are related to personal and festive celebrations such as birthday parties, Valentine’s Day, and Easter – while Balloon Dog (1994-2000) has become particularly iconic. The initial stages of the project were beset by serious financial difficulties and this resulted in a cancelled exhibition at the New York Guggenheim in 1996.
Subsequently the artist managed to convince investors and dealers to finance the project before its completion and the sculptures were widely exhibited from the early 2000s. Cracked Egg (Blue) won the Charles Wollaston Award for the most distinguished work in the London Royal Academy’s 2008 Summer Exhibition and sculptures from the series were shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and featured in a large exhibition of Koons’ work in Versailles, France the same year.
Even though the artist was the subject of numerous copyright infringement claims, Koons launched his own in 2010, issuing a cease and desist letter to Park Life, a San Francisco book shop and gallery, who were selling balloon dog bookends. The case was dropped early in 2011 after the lawyer representing the bookstore filed a complaint for declaratory relief.
Between 2002 and 2014, the artist worked on two series which referenced cartoon characters, Popeye and Hulk Elvis and included sculptures, oil paintings and collages. He also worked with Lady Gaga on her 2013 studio album, Artpop, creating the sculpture which featured on the cover. Riding the wave of interest and rising values of contemporary art, his work in recent years has continued to explore themes relating to sexuality, celebrity, consumerism, and childhood. His works are now created in a studio in Hudson Yards, New York City where he employs between 90 and 120 assistants. He moved his operation to its current location from long-time Chelsea studio in 2019.
In October 2019, the artist unveiled a new statue in Paris, called Bouquet of Tulips. Commissioned by the former United States Ambassador to France it was intended to be a memorial to those who lost their lives in the 2015 and 2016 terror attacks in the city. Featuring a hand that emerges from the ground and clutches a spray of balloon flowers, reminiscent of his earlier work Tulips, the piece has been beset by controversy. When the project was first outlined in 2016, members of the French cultural establishment published an open letter in the daily newspaper Liberation calling the piece, “opportunistic and even cynical” and requesting that the scheme was cancelled. The controversy continued after the unveiling with philosopher Yves Michaud comparing the sculpture to “eleven coloured anuses mounted on stems”. As a result, the sculpture has become known as the “culipes”, which roughly translates as “asstulips”.
In 2019, the artist had a 1,500 m2 (16,000 sq ft) studio factory near the old Hudson rail yards in Chelsea and employed upwards of 90 to 120 assistants to produce his work. More recently, the artist has downsized staffing and shifted to more automated forms of production and relocated to a much smaller studio space. He used a color-by-numbers system, so that each of his assistants could execute his canvases and sculptures as if they had been done “by a single hand”.
Jeff Koons Net worth
The American artist has an estimated net worth of around $500 million as of 2021.