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Cast Inflatable Haters

from The New York Times

Stop Hating Jeff Koons 

Why “Rabbit,” the perfect art for the roaring mid-80s, continues to speak to us.

By Roberta Smith

Jeff Koons poses with “Rabbit” at the Tate Modern in 2009.CreditCreditDaniel Deme/EPA, via Shutterstock

Jeff Koons is back on top, if on top means holding the highest auction price for a living artist, as hyped by the auction house responsible. Mr. Koons’s 1986 “Rabbit,” a precise stainless steel copy of a plastic inflatable toy — mirror-smooth yet with seams and puckers — sold Wednesday night at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale for $91.1 million, the highlight of New York’s buoyant spring auctions.

It broke the record set last fall when Christie’s auctioned David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures)” — a 1972painting the size of a small mural — for $90.3 million. But let’s get real. The hammer price for both works was actually $80 million. The “Rabbit” inched ahead by a whisker — about $762,500 — because of a twist of fate: Christie’s increased the fees buyers pay on Feb. 1. The difference was simply a matter of auction house profit-seeking. It recalls the soaring home-run statistics from baseball’s “steroid era” before testing for performance enhancing drugs became routine. The price should have an asterisk or footnote — something that says, hey, the final bids on these two art works were exactly the same. It was a tie.

Mr. Koons, who is 64, set his first living-artist auction record in 2013, when his “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for $58.4 million, also at Christie’s. Then came a precipitous drop: The artist’s big painted aluminum “Play-Doh” went for $22.8 million in 2014. Unlike “Play-Doh,” the “Rabbit,” made in 1986, has been with us over three decades, alternately loved and hated. Some of its most fervent admirers see it as the perfect work of art for its moment, the roaring mid-1980s. I don’t disagree. I also think it continues to speak to us.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on May 18, 2019 by Editor

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