Cambridge Art Gallery installed Jeff Koons’ magnificent work entitled Aphrodite (2016) now installed in her new home a the Sensei Lanai Four Seasons Resort.
On the Porcelain series from the Doha catalogue:
Koons: “I always try to make work that will help people survive that first moment of seeing things so that when they come into contact with art, it will be about their own history, their own potential.”
I remember my grandparents always kept a little knickknack on a table in their television room: it was an ashtray made of porcelain, with a reclining woman in a bathtub, and if you put a cigarette underneath her legs, the heat would make the legs swing. As a kid, I was mesmerized. I could look at it for hours, and it gave me a pleasure and a sense of excitement that I still try to find when I look at objects today. My fascination with porcelain probably comes from that little figurine. Personally, I don’t see any difference between the excitement that somebody can have from interacting with that type of object and the sense of possibility and faith in the future that someone can find just looking at a great Rubens or a great Fragonard. When I think of this ashtray, I’m dealing with my own personal history, but when I bring images into the gallery space, I am also trying to give the viewer a sense of their own cultural histories, their own memories, whatever they may be.
In my ballerina sculptures, or in works like Hercules, I am dealing with familiar images, whether through legend or the everyday, and playing with the idea of the past and present. In the Porcelain series, in particular, I really wanted to deal with gradations, which to me are another way to depict time. Gradations are very metaphysical because they relate to our sky—to the sunrise and the sunset. Materially it’s another way of bringing in the work this aspect of time travel and the
idea that these images are archetypal, they’re timeless. They become ideal forms. When I choose an object, I am specifically choosing it to be able to show some aspect of what it is. I always try to make work that will help people survive that first moment of seeing it so that when they come into contact with art, it will be about their own history, their own potential.
Koons Reflects on other works in this series – Quote on Venus another work from the Porcelain series:
“I believe the relevance of Venus – as a contemporary artwork at this time is its metaphysical connection. The work is openly involved with connecting the viewer to the past at the same moment being hyper aware of the present and how everything about the present moment depends on that event that the viewer is the affirmation of this moment; at the same time, any essence of a future is carried within the viewer’s excitement and stimulation for their future. I hope that my artworks such as Venus share our inner universal connectivity through biology and the humanities that we can have hope in a future.”
On the process of fabrication in connection with the Porcelain series.
Text provided by the National Gallery of Victoria:
Fabricated from forged blocks of stainless steel made from a custom alloy which was developed for Koons’s sculptures for both maximum reflectivity and invisible welds. The forged blocks are CNC machined in numerous parts that are mechanically connected inside the sculpture itself and then cosmetically welded with a laser welder to give a seamless appearance. After assembly, the surface parts are polished to a high mirror-reflective sheen. A transparent primer is applied, chemically formulated for the mirror-polished surfaces of the sculpture. The paint is transparent lacquer used in the automotive industry. It is highly UV-resistant and suitable for outdoors. The paint is applied based on the digital model that was created using the color capture resulting from an elaborate photogrammetry process developed by Jeff Koons studio.
Jeff Koons in Conversation with Tony Ellwood:
“It (The Porcelain series) started with enjoying different porcelain pieces from the seventeenth – eighteenth century up to the present day. And I started to just look at these porcelain figures, and what I really enjoyed was the different gradations that would be applied to their surface. So, if you look at the Venus sculpture in your Collection, and you also look at your Collection of these eighteenth-century porcelains, you’ll notice that the hands will be painted, then there’ll be a gradation coming into the wrist. Then there’ll be a flesh tone, and then there’ll be a gradation maybe on an elbow or around the inside of an arm or in the fabrics. And these gradations, the whole concept of a gradation informs us about time. And it does that because automatically our mind is thinking of a sunrise and a sunset. So, whenever we look up at a sky, you know, we’re getting a gradation. And so, I wanted to play with the metaphysics of this experience.
We already have this very intoxicating, mirror-polished surface that is informing us of the right here, right now that this moment is happening. It’s an affirmation of you, the viewer. And it’s now, if you move, you know, the reflection moves. Everything’s about the here and now. But when you move into the way the work is painted in these gradations, you’re able to start to kind of time-travel, the image working with something from the eighteenth century is showing this kind of relevance of images in the past and tying us really to Platonism. And the idea of an ideal form where a piece of cloth is a piece of cloth, or, a chariot is a chariot, arrows in a quiver, or, you know, it’s the idea of arrows in the quiver. Venus – it’s the idea of Venus. It’s really about an eternal form about an idea. And this metaphysical experience and what makes it completely metaphysical is that the viewer has an essence of their own potential. It’s the excitement that you feel from this intoxicating surface, these colors, the saturation, this tie to history, and at the same time, this essence of your own potential, the excitement, the biological excitement you have for your own future, that’s really what the Venus wants to communicate; affirmation of the self, of you, and that everything’s about you. If you leave the room, the art leaves the room. And, for me, paintings and sculptures are amazing vehicles, but that’s not the art. When we experience art, it’s that aspect, that essence that we have for the expansion of our own parameters, our own being, what we can become.”
video of installation.
Jeff Koons (American, b. 1955)
Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating – 102 x 30 ¼ x 30 5/8 in.
Edition of 3, plus 1 Artist Proof. Edition 2/3