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Selected works from the
38th Annual Fine Arts Exhibition
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen
until 2 September
JEFF KOONS (b. 1955) is one of the best known of contemporary artists, whose creative approach has repeatedly caused a furor since the 1980s. He has become especially famous for the works that call the conventional definitions of art and kitsch into question. The Fondation Beyeler is presenting the first Koons exhibition ever held in a Swiss museum.
The comprehensive show is devoted to three central groupings of works that mark decisive steps in Koons's development. These reflect the unconventional path, bringing together popular and high culture, which the object has followed in his oeuvre and continues to follow. Koons is one of those artists who has taken up the discussion launched by Duchamp and his invention of the ready-made in the early twentieth century and has developed it in an idiosyncratic and brilliant way - in this, he is a master.
The three series selected by the artist for this exhibition are The New (1980-87), Banality (1988), and Celebration (from 1994). The ready-made-like objects composed of everyday things in The New, created in the 1980s, turned in Banality into strange and provocative, traditionally hand-crafted sculptures in wood, porcelain and mirrored glass, whose motifs were taken equally from art history and pop culture and collaged into innovative figures. A few years later, Koons's sculpture took the form of monumental, perfectly crafted stainless steel pieces, and since then, these have been accompanied by large-format, painstakingly executed paintings. In the paintings and sculptures of Celebration, the artist celebrates children and childhood, employing motifs that recall children's birthday parties and holiday customs, whose stylized sculptural form lends them the status of iconic figures.
With The New, the young artist's early group of works, and Celebration, which Koons continues to expand, the show traces a broad arc. At the midpoint stands Banality, that far-reaching series of works that had a manifesto-like character and at the same time was crucial for Koons's definition of his artistic stance. Together these three series lead to the core of the artist's creativity and thinking.
Two Koons sculptures will be installed in Berower Park.
The exhibition is curated by Sam Keller, Director, and Theodora Vischer, Senior Curator at Large, at the Fondation Beyeler.