When first shown at the Venice Biennale in 1990, the paintings, sculptures and installations of Jeff Koonsʼ “Made in Heaven” series captured the public's imagination to such an extent that a solo show of the works at Sonnabend Gallery in New York the following year generated lines around the block. With “Made in Heaven,” Koons celebrated, in explicit sexual terms, his union with wife Ilona Staller, the Italian porn star and politician known as La Cicciolina. Depicting the pair as a contemporary Adam and Eve, works with such titles as Dirty Ejaculation and Ilonaʼs Asshole generated immediate controversy that overshadowed their complex dialogue with the history of art and Koonsʼ exploration of the established values of traditional painting and photography. To this day, “Made in Heaven” remains the most debated work in the career of this celebrated artist.
On October 6th , and in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the original Venice presentation of this landmark series, Luxembourg & Dayan will unveil “Jeff Koons: Made in Heaven Paintings,” an exhibition of nine major canvases and one glass sculpture from the artistʼ s most renowned body of work. The exhibition will remain on view at the gallery through January 21, 2011. “Jeff Koons: Made in Heaven Paintings” will be accompanied by a new book featuring an essay from curator and critic Alison M. Gingeras. If Jeff Koonsʼ work over the past four decades has been devoted to the aestheticization of contemporary desire, “Made in Heaven” represents a moment of apotheosis. The paintings of the series reference art from the Baroque and Rococo periods – Berniniʼ s expressions of physical ecstasy as portal to the realm of the sublime, and the carefully staged, allusive love scenes of Fragonard and Boucher that titillated audiences of the day – and also draw upon the breakthroughs of such early modern painters as Courbet and Manet.
About the Artist
Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and honorary doctorates fro the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. Since the 1970s, the artist has received acclaim and stimulated debate with works that pluck images and objects from popular culture, framing questions about taste and pleasure in contemporary society. He has transformed banal items into sumptuous icons in work that acquires a psychological dimension through dramatic shifts in scale, plays with spectacularly engineered surfaces, and offers subliminal allegories of animals, humans and anthropomorphized objects. The subject of art history is a constant undercurrent in Koonsʼ work. Among the awards he has received are Officer of the French Legion of Honor; the Artistic Achievement Award from Americans for the Arts; and the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at foremost museums and galleries internationally and is included in leading private collections. Jeff Koons lives and works in New York City.