Jeff Koons Artist Profile

Born: 1955
Location: York, Pennsylvania, United States

Balloon Dog Sculpture - Jeff Koons
  1. Early Life and Education:
    • Born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1955.
    • His father was an interior decorator and his mother a seamstress and homemaker.
    • Early exposure to art through a furniture store his father managed, which also sold artworks.
    • Studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
    • Briefly worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
  2. Early Career:
    • Moved to New York in 1977 and became involved in the city’s burgeoning art scene.
    • Initially worked in commodities trading to fund his art career.
    • Early series like “The New” and “Equilibrium” in the 1980s, which showcased consumer goods and basketballs in tanks of water, respectively, began to draw attention.
  3. Rise to Prominence:
    • The “Banality” series in the late 1980s brought him international fame, featuring large-scale sculptures that replicated kitsch objects.
    • His work from this period sparked debates on the commodification of art and the role of the artist.
  4. Major Works and Series:
    • “Made in Heaven” series (early 1990s), which was provocative and stirred controversy.
    • “Celebration” series, which includes large, meticulously crafted sculptures and paintings depicting party-themed objects.
    • “Puppy” (1992), a large floral sculpture, and his “Balloon Dog” sculptures from the 2000s, became iconic pieces.
  5. Commercial Success and Notoriety:
    • Koons became one of the highest-selling artists, with his works fetching record prices at auctions.
    • His “Rabbit” sculpture sold for over $90 million in 2019, setting a record for a living artist.
  6. Controversies and Criticism:
    • Koons’ work has often been polarizing, with critics challenging its artistic value and originality.
    • Legal battles over copyright issues, particularly concerning his use of preexisting imagery and objects.
  7. Personal Life:
    • Married to Ilona Staller (Cicciolina), an Italian porn star and politician, in 1991; they divorced in 1994.
    • Has been involved in lengthy legal battles over the custody of their son.
    • Later married Justine Wheeler, an artist and former employee, with whom he has several children.
  8. Legacy and Influence:
    • Koons’ influence extends beyond the art world, impacting design, fashion, and popular culture.
    • His work continues to evoke discussion about the nature of art, the role of the artist, and the interplay between culture and commerce.
  9. Philanthropy and Public Engagement:
    • Involved in various charitable activities and has contributed to public art projects.
    • His works are featured in major museums and public spaces around the world, making art accessible to a broad audience.