Jeff Koons Artist Biography
American artist Jeff Koons is known for exploring everyday objects and creating artworks which examine contemporary obsessions with consumerism, sex, celebrity, fame, and the media. His unique iconography is often controversial and always engaging. Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania. His father was a furniture dealer and interior decorator; his mother was a seamstress. At a young age Koons started painting Rococo masterpieces which his father sold in his shop. Art helped give me confidence, says Koons, It gave me a sense of self.He studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Walt Disney, Georgia OKeefe and Orson Welles are alumni, before moving to New York City in 1976. After a period selling memberships at the Museum of Modern Art, he spent four years working as a commodities broker on Wall Street to finance his art. Koons first solo exhibition was in 1980 at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. The New: Jeff Koons comprised of wall-mounted vacuum cleaners with fluorescent lights and shampoo polishers displayed in clear Plexiglass vitrines. His first solo gallery show followed in 1985 at International With Monument in New Yorks East Village, showcasing the Equilibrium series, a group of works including basketballs suspended in tanks, framed Nike posters and cast bronze objects. It was in the late 1980s that Koons really burst on to the art scene via simultaneous solo gallery shows in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cologne. Each of the works for the show, which included a gold-leaf plated, life-sized statue of Michael Jackson and his pet chimpanzee Bubbles, was made in triplicate. In 1990 Jeff Koons work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale. Pieces from his Made in Heaven series depicting nude images of the artist and his future wife, Ilona Staller sparked a major controversy, which continued when the entire series was unveiled the following year. Pablo Picasso has been a major inspiration for Koons, who owns The Kiss by Picasso. This painting has changed my life. I like to look at it at night, he told the Telegraph in 2012. Koons has poured his wealth into building his own art collection, which now includes work by Edouard Manet, Gustave Courbet, Rene Magritte, Roy Lichtenstein and Salvador Dali. Koons is friends with British artist Damien Hirst, who owns one of his Made in Heaven series works both artists have famously made a virtue of the premise that art in a capitalist culture can only be reduced to commerce. Jeff Koons is one of the few artists of his generation who has transcended the fine art world to work with a variety of cultural figures, including filmmaker Gus Van Sant, fashion designer Stella McCartney, and pop star Lady Gaga. In 2010 he was named an Officer de la Legion d'Honneur by the French government and an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of the Arts in London. In 2012. Hilary Clinton presented him with the U.S. State Departments Medal of Arts in 2012. Since 2000, Koons work has been the subject of numerous international solo exhibitions at museums including the Helsinki City Art Museum (2005); the Chteau de Versailles (2008-9); the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2008); the Serpentine Gallery (2009); the Beyeler Foundation (2012); and the Whitney Museum of American Art (2014).