Jeff Koons at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills
(First Posted in Jan of 2010)
While Jeff Koons has certainly etched his reputation with bombastic, ambitious and extremely witty sculpture he’s proving to be a consumate painter as well. The exhibition at Gagosian in Beverly Hills fills the cavernous space with several large scale canvases. On a field of ben day dots, or rather, slightly off registration color half tone dots, are either gestural “paint” strokes or a centered silver doodle. Because of the scale, neither the photographic ground nor the representational nature of the doodle are immediately descernable. Landscape, the sole vertical image in the exhibition, gives the epiphany of recognition. The Silver Doodle is a reductionist gesture of a woman’s vulva with thighs spread from right to left. The gestured silver strokes are clearly based on Courbet’s Origin of the World but could just as easily be a reduction of any Penthouse centerfold. The photographic sources are also salacious in nature but their scale distorts and obfuscates to such a degree that one tends to loose oneself in the color and rythm of the plane.
That these canvases are executed by a highly skilled team of assistants shouldn’t bother anyone for nothing of this scale and ambition could conceivably be brought into existance by a lone artist. The singular voice of the artist is in tact however. Koons continues to embrace high and low culture to stunning effect.
Two weeks after seeing the show I stumbled upon a magnificent description of a woman’s body by Micheal Chabon who, in a passage recounting the loss of his virginity described his utter wonder of first hand experience as discovering “…the astonishing evolutionary feat of origami between a woman’s legs.” The sense of awe is evoked handily with these sensational paintings.
As I previewed this blog post I was amazed at how readily the photographic ground was read in this thumbnail scale. It bears mentioning that each colored dot in the actual painting is roughly 2 inches in diameter and the paintings are mostly larger than 14 feet in width. Again an ocular sensation in person not to be missed.
It’s a terrific show and a rare opportunity to see so many works in one place at one time.