Jeff Koons - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of the artist
    Phillips de Pury, New York, New Museum Benefit Auction, November 15, 2007, lot 10
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Sexuality is the principal object of art. It's about the preservation of the species. Procreation is a priority."

    JEFF KOONS, 2005

    Mystifying with undeniable allure, Bikini (Dots) is clearly the progeny of the visionary and ever-dynamic Jeff Koons, who once again thrills and flirts with the human eye in the present lot. Koons remains one of the most prolific and prominent contemporary artists, celebrated for his endeavors in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. Nearly always creating a series of works exploring a similar theme, the present lot reflects contemporary consumer culture through his tongue-in-cheek photorealism and commercial aesthetics borrowed from Pop Art to produce a singular and universally accessible style. The polarizing opinions expressed often vehemently by critics and viewers alike echo earlier sentiments about avant-garde creations by such masters as Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp, in their ability to at once provoke controversy and wonder. Koons represents a powerhouse source of markedly sexual imagery, but notably also radiates a sense of exorbitance and effervescence. His consciously planar and opaque subjects articulate total and complete self-enjoyment and laud adult sexual lust alongside a hungry, childlike consumption of popular culture.

    The present work calls to mind the artistic movements of the 1960s as it seamlessly integrates Surrealism and Pop, yet diversifies itself with the foremost concern of the tactile surface--a compelling, incongruous, stainless steel. The silhouette of a string bikini bottom is silkscreened in iconic Ben-Day dots on the surface, a variant of the artist’s series Easyfun-Ethereal, which he initially explored in the early 2000s with sizable oil paintings. A particularly small series for the artist, Koons reimagined the oil paintings in a set of unique mirrors, of which the present lot is exemplary, and the series debuted at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York in 1999. The series pays homage to human sexuality, or what Koons calls “the foundation of our life experience,” contextualized within processed and packaged notions of American landscapes and food products. The painting from which the present lot has been extrapolated, Desert, is a kaleidoscope of layered lush, cerulean blue waterfalls, a glowing yellow desert, and starkly green and yellow preserved frozen vegetables. Bikini (Dots) departs from its canvas counterpart through the addition of the Ben-Day dots, enabling the sculpture to appear both more and less artificial--the dots imply mechanical reproduction, but they also distinctly suggest reflection and light, fluctuating colors and discrepancies in texture. In perpetuating this lineage of Pop and Surrealism with the devil-may-care Dadaist slant, Koons synthesizes the work as a commodity that is impossible to typecast in the hierarchy of traditional aesthetics. Like the oil painting from which it was extracted, Bikini (Dots) refutes all conventions of depth and transforms into a dreamlike entity with its gravity-defying propensity and utter lack of identifiable boundaries. The bikini bottom has transcended its physicality and entered that of a metaphysical reality—the work is not only an inverse, what was once hidden in the picture planes, and is now revealed to be an entirely autonomous landscape. Simultaneously the image is too fragmentary to gratify our inquisitive nature but provocative enough to draw a visceral response. Despite its disjuncture, the present lot rejects a credulous sweetness that can be construed from Koons’s earlier works. As Katy Siegel discloses, “Instead, Easyfun-Ethereal offers up a rather mainstream male sexuality associated with long-haired bikini babes, interspersed with the more abstract sensuality of flowing liquids and fragments of permanently fresh food.” (K. Siegel, “Easyfun-Ethereal: 2000-2002,” H. Werner Holzwarth (ed.), Spain, 2009, p. 468) Bikini (Dots) expresses a radical fusion of the commonplace and the sensual, seizing the ceaseless mission of the artist to translate and create a new era that suits his artistic project. The present lot not only continues this practice but also proposes a new pictorial language through the re-appropriation of previous forms and motifs from earlier series. Furthermore, the scant silhouette of Bikini (Dots) facilitates the audiences to the position of the omnipresent male gaze as upon the voluptuous women gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated magazines. The absence of a figure powerfully allows us to envision and fantasize about the body which the bikini would hug.

    As Jonathan Jones elaborates, “Koons seems to be constantly stretching, twisting, amplifying and reconfiguring the ordinary to make it strange. He has an eye for form, which he sees like his hero Salvador Dalí through a hypersexual filter.” (J. Jones, “Jeff Koons: Not just the king of kitsch,” The Guardian, June 2009) Like his predecessor Dalí, Koons exercises his masterful capacity to constantly reconfigure the human form from a fresh perspective, as evidenced in the present lot. Koons’s ardent embrace of contemporary commercial aesthetic is a triumph in artistic communication and casts a wide net on a global audience for which his works may speak. The glistening, smooth surface of the stainless steel coolly signifies and reflects an altered version of its viewers through the lens of Ben-Day dots and a carnal representation of female sexual freedom. Conjuring visions of Eve with her leafy concealment of the erotic, Koons blithely produces an apex portrait of the feminine. A vortex of exhilarating imagery, including fertility and allure, Bikini (Dots) enraptures the viewer immediately. Koons’s choice of the silhouette presses the viewer to engender his own world - a landscape even more intriguing than this singular, suggestive element.


Bikini (Dots)

silkscreen on stainless steel with mirror polished edges
56 x 90 x 1 3/4 in. (142.2 x 228.6 x 4.4 cm.)
Signed and dated "2001" on the reverse.
This work is from an edition of 4 unique variants.

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 May 2014 7PM