this issue contains
>> Jeff Koons: Interview
>> A World Full of Multiples: Richard Prince
>> The Art of Shopping
>> Painting at a Rate of 150 Beats per Minute: Michel Majerus

>> archive


Jeff Koons in front of "Caterpillar - Ladder", 2005
Courtesy Cheryl Kaplan ©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2005. All rights reserved.

Or a swing set.

Or tears.

It’s predatory, but fun.

It’s more feminine, the ladder is like the Nude Descending the Staircase and the one with chains could just lay a million eggs.

You’ve said: "I love the gallery. It’s a commercial world, and morality is based generally around economics, and that’s taking place in the art gallery." Morality and economics are completely tied together. As far as economics are concerned, morality is played out in our responsibility to each other.

Without morality, economics wouldn’t have an incentive. Economics work if I agree to your terms. I think about you going door to door, selling things – it wouldn’t work if they didn’t care enough to open the door. But Dali opened the door for you. When you met him at his hotel, what did he have to say?

When I was taking his photographs, he would say: "Hurry up kid, I can’t hold this position all day." But he kept holding the position and waxed his moustache. I’ve always liked Dali. As a child, we had a coffee table book. My mother read that Salvador would stay at the St. Regis Hotel in New York every winter. I called him when I started art school in Baltimore. I came on a train and met him in the lobby.

He had a big fur coat, a cane, and diamond pins. He invited me to his exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery. He posed for photographs. His generosity was fantastic, I was some young artist and Dali was someone I cared about a lot. I remembered thinking I can have my life based around art and give all my attention to this. I’ve always tried to be generous if somebody contacts me.

In the 1985 " Luxury and Degradation" exhibition at International With Monument, you said the "sculptures represented a range of economic levels." Why has "degradation" both in its physical and social sense been important to your work?

The first image for the Luxury and Degradation show was the Jim Bean – J.B. Turner Train, and it was a porcelain and plastic train made of liquor decanters and it sat on tracks. I transformed it into a fake luxury. I had no desire to use silver or platinum. Stainless steel is a proletarian material that keeps us alive, like pots and pans. That was the first time I worked with an everyday material. It was the only thing that would keep the alcohol; it’s what’s used in distilleries. It gave me a luxurious surface. Abstraction used in advertising depends on the economic income levels of target audiences. The lower the target level, the less visual abstraction is used. The higher the income level, the higher the abstraction, because they don’t want to debase you. They want to get as much economic and political power out of each individual as possible. Luxury is something they want people to strive after, and that’s what that work was about. I was telling people to embrace abstraction and luxury and be free of it.

Jeff Koons in his studio, 2005
Courtesy Cheryl Kaplan ©Copyright Cheryl Kaplan 2005.
All rights reserved.

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