On this day in 1955 one of the most controversial artists of 20th century was born. Jeff Koons is the artist who blended the concerns and methods of Pop, Conceptual, and appropriation art with craft-making and popular culture to create his own unique iconography, often controversial and always engaging. His work explores contemporary obsessions with sex and desire; race and gender; and celebrity, media, commerce, and fame. A self-proclaimed “idea man,” Koons hires artisans and technicians to make the actual works.
His works have sold for substantial sums, including at least one world record auction price for a work by a living artist. On November 12, 2013, Koons’s Balloon Dog (Orange) sold at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City for US$58.4 million, above its high US$55 million estimate, becoming the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction.
And in this article, we will be talking about this Balloon Dogs – because there are five of them. They measure 307.3 × 363.2 × 114.3 cm. It is made from precision engineered, mirror-polished stainless steel and finished with a translucent coating of either blue, magenta, orange, red, or yellow.
The stainless steel orange sculpture with transparent color coating is one of the first balloon dogs, which look like the kind of souvenir clowns make at birthday parties. Other pups have been on display around the world in red, green, and blue — not to mention a shiny pink one made it to Versailles in 2008.
Koons said, “I’ve always enjoyed balloon animals because they’re like us. We’re balloons. You take a breath and you inhale, it’s an optimism. You exhale, and it’s kind of a symbol of death.” (And somewhere, a clown just cried…).
The Balloon Dog is not the only Balloon sculptures of Koons – below is a glimpse at other noteworthy balloon sculptures by Koons in recent years:
This shocking pink Balloon Dog photographed on September 9, 2008, at the Château de Versailles sparked controversy as some visitors said the work was crude and too modern for Louis XIV’s former palace.
The Balloon Dog also becomes a symbol of pop culture. Jay Z apparently is a huge fan of Koons, once rapping “Oh what a feeling, f*** it I want a billion / Jeff Koons balloons, I just wanna blow up” on his 2013 song “Picasso Baby. He also perform with a copy of it on his concerts in 2017