Jeff Koons has been controversial from the very beginning of his career, which began around 1979. Having experimented with inflatable bunnies, sculptures of cheesy angels and a lot of pink, he challenged us and our pre-conceptions of art and kitsch, of what is acceptable and what is simply tasteless. In 1989 he crossed a yet another line by producing a series of very sexual posters and sculptures, making us question whether…
Is this art or is it pornography?
The series “Made in Heaven” features Koons himself and the Italian porn-star Ilona Staller, also known as Cicciolina. Koons felt that in order to make the works more credible, they should be married, so they did. He employed Ilona’s regular photographer and backdrops to make the posters fit to the distinctive aesthetic associated with ‘glamour’ imagery and advertising.
Koons tries to reference other provocative paintings, such as Edouard Manet’s Olympia, and by blurring the boundaries between fine art and pornography, to examine the place of sexuality in contemporary visual culture.
Koons produced not only posters but also a series of glass sculptures depicting him and Ilona in various sexual poses. Doesn’t it remind you of the erotic Japanese prints we wrote about? Want to give them a closer look? Visit Koon’s website.
The story of their marriage does not have a happy, post-modern end. Koons expected Cicciolina to stop working in her industry after the marriage, but she didn’t want to. The couple split up and began a strenuous fight for the rights of custody to their son. Cicciolina won and moved with the boy to Italy where she kept on working.