This June, the Whitney Museum of American Art will debut the most comprehensive retrospective ever devoted to the groundbreaking art of Jeff Koons. This unprecedented exhibition will be the artist's first large-scale museum presentation in New York and also the first time that a single artist's work will fill nearly the entire Whitney Museum. Organized by Nancy and Steve Crown Family Curator and Associate Director of Programs Scott Rothkopf, the exhibition surveys more than three decades of Koons's art and includes approximately 150 works across a variety of mediums. On view from June 27 through October 19, 2014, this landmark retrospective will be the Whitney's grand finale in its uptown Breuer building before the Museum opens its new facility downtown in spring 2015. Jeff Koons: A Retrospective will travel to the Centre Pompidou in Paris from November 26, 2014 to April 27, 2015, and to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from June 5 to September 27, 2015.
Over the past 35 years, Jeff Koons has become one of the most popular, influential, controversial, and important artists of the postwar generation. Throughout his career, he has pioneered new approaches to the readymade, tested the boundaries between advanced art and mass culture, and challenged the limits of industrial fabrication in works of great beauty and emotional intensity. Outside of his studio, Koons has transformed the relationship of artists to the cult of celebrity and the global market to become one of the best-known visual artists alive today. Above all, he is the maker of some of the most indelible icons of contemporary art, including One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985), Rabbit (1986), Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), Made in Heaven (1989), and Balloon Dog (1994-2000), all of which will be included in the Whitney retrospective.
As the first complete chronological narrative of Koons's art in more than two decades, this exhibition will situate each of these sculptures within the context of the diverse series in which they originated, while also revealing the trajectory of these bodies of work across the arc of Koons's career. In addition, the Whitney will premiere several new pieces by Koons, including the monumental Play-Doh, which the artist has been working on for more than twenty years.
Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney's Alice Pratt Brown Director notes: "Jeff Koons is one of the most significant artists of our era, and this retrospective will allow us for the first time to take the full measure of his art. Never before have so many of his works been on view together, nor has the Whitney ever devoted so much space to a single artist. We felt it was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the closing of our uptown building with an exhibition of great scholarly rigor that also promises to be a major international cultural event."
Rothkopf remarks: "Koons is widely known as the maker of a handful of iconic objects, but this retrospective will for the first time demonstrate how they fit together as part of a compelling and multifaceted story that will surprise even those familiar with his work. The incredible range of his materials, subjects, scales, formal approaches, and techniques is virtually unparalleled and will make for a dramatic narrative full of plot twists and discoveries. It's hard to think of another living artist who has pushed as many aesthetic and cultural limits as Koons has."
The Museum will devote its lobby, second, third, and fourth floors, as well as its outdoor sculpture court (approximately 27,000 square feet) to the exhibition, displaying a range of pieces from each stage of the artist's career and representing the following series: lnflatables, Pre-New, The New, Equilibrium, Luxury & Degradation, Statuary, Banality, Made in Heaven, Easyfun, Celebration, Popeye, Hulk Elvis, Antiquity, and Gazing Ball.
Throughout this diverse body of work, Koons has achieved remarkable consistency in his overarching themes and technical rigor. He has elevated familiar objects—inflatable toys, basketballs, vacuum cleaners—from the mundane to the exceptional, shining a hard light on the culture in which we live and art's place within that culture.