The road toward the disintegration of art perhaps began in the the year 1917, when Marcel Duchamp signed his Fountain urinal with the pseudonym R. Mutt. It continued, although without a good part of the talent and intellectual sophistication of Duchamp, with Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup cans. And today it goes on through the master of a whole new generation of even more iconoclastic and, yes, much wealthier artists: Jeff Koons. A darling of the art markets – his Balloon Dog (Orange) has recently been auctioned off for the impressive sum of US$58 million, the most ever for a living artist – Koons also has the support of leading cultural institutions like the Whitney Museum, the venue right now of a major retrospective – neither Jackson Pollock nor Mark Rothko nor even Warhol himself managed to get the museum to devote all its halls for a show – which is to be the last exhibition that the Whitney holds in Marcel Breuer’s building before moving, in 2015, to its new home, a building designed by Renzo Piano.
Complex because of the artist’s grueling perfectionism but also because of the millionaire insurances involved, ‘Jeff Koons: A Retrospective’ gathers 150 works arranged in impeccable chronological order, from the shiny sculptures of inflatable puppies to the huge piles of fake clay, and including along the way the celebrated Woman in Tub or the no less famous series Made in Heaven, the porn film he starred in with his his ex-wife, Cicciolina. The show is on in New York up to 19 October and will then head for Paris and Bilbao.