Classic paintings like the Mona Lisa, Raft of the Medusa, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), Mars, Venus, and Cupid, and other revered works are engrained into art historians brains from the get-go, conditioned to be as imperative to their education as the ABC’s is to a Kindergartner learning English.
In order to catch a glimpse of these works by the old masters, you have to trek to the most touristy but renowned international museums like The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, or The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oh, wait – never mind, you can actually take a quick trip to Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea to see Jeff Koons’ new show, “Gazing Ball Paintings”.
This rather large exhibition consists of Koons latest series, a collection of original “handmade paintings” or “replicas” as Koons was quoted by ARTnews. The pieces appear as slightly larger versions of the classic paintings previously mentioned, though with a contemporary Koons spin. An additional hand-blown blue “gazing ball” is directly in front of each canvas, mounted on a camouflaged aluminum surface. Similarly to his past gazing ball series, these metallic balls were commissioned by Koons, all coming from Pennsylvania.
“They’re hollow glass,” Koons said. “I love the concept of the gaze. People put gazing balls in their yard. It’s such a generous thing to do! It’s informing you, it’s bright, it’s informing you of where you are. It’s a GPS system. Because it reflects almost 360 degrees and it tells you everything it can about where you are in the universe. Your brain is always secreting chemicals because it wants to know where you are in the universe.”
So, why the balls and the paintings? Well, Koons insists that his career as an artist, as well as this series, has been heavily influenced by the masterpieces previously mentioned. By incorporating the balls with the paintings, the viewer is able to literally insert themselves into the work, appreciating a classic work of art in a whole new light.
The artist elaborates, “I see them as devices of connecting. I always just wanted to be involved in the dialogue with the avant-garde. These are the artists I have an interest in—that I enjoy. They’ve enriched my life.”
Gazing Ball Paintings will be on view at the 21st street location until December 23rd, so be sure to check it out and use the above information to formulate your own opinion about what is going on in this show.