Jeff Koons: ‘We Are Ourselves Inflatables’

Rabbit 1986.jpgSay what you will about Jeff Koons, but if you’ve had the good fortune to chat with him (particularly, as in our case, while atop the Metropolitan Museum after a few specialty drinks), you know that the artist oozes the wild charisma usually reserved for successful dictators. Be glad that he’s using his powers for shiny, happy, multi-million-dollar good (and the odd invasion of Versailles) rather than advocating a return to agrarian values. The Art Newspaper caught up with Koons on the eve of his summer solo exhibition at London’s Serpentine Gallery, and the conversation progressed to a delicious level of abstraction. Our favorite part comes when Koons is asked whether there is “a notion of art as deception, for example, with your inflatables that should be light but are actually heavy—the opposite of Richard Serra‘s notion of the integrity of weight, that sculpture must weigh what it looks?” His response manages to encompass life, death, self-actualization, and swimming, although we should caution that his inflatables are not intended for use as flotation devices:

I don’t think of it as deception but as “either/or” or “Ying & Yang”, I think of the inflatables as anthropomorphic, we are ourselves inflatables, we take a breath, we expand, we contract, our last breath in life, our deflation. By contrast these objects have a permanence to them, they maintain a non-divisible sense of life, of continuity. Maybe it’s also almost like learning to swim, that extraordinary experience almost like birthing, the independence of when you can finally swim yourself. The viewer feels their own possibilities and whatever their interests are, they feel more excited to meet their own potential, that’s what I hope the viewer experiences.