Jeff Koons - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 12, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Anthony d'Offay, London; Private collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, International with Monument Gallery, Equilibrium, 1985 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    J. Koons, R. Rosenblum, The Jeff Koons Handbook, London, 1992, p. 154; A. Muthesius, Jeff Koons, Cologne, 1992, p. 166

  • Catalogue Essay

    A consummate observer and critic of mass-culture, Jeff Koons, through his art, has turned a mirror on the way we live and the objects which we keep. By carefully selecting his subjects and through highly stylized presentations, the artist seduces his viewers, asking them to consider his chosen objects as something more than what they think they know them to be. In 1985, Koons held one of his earliest and most significant exhibitions, “Equilibrium” at the International With Monument Gallery in New York’s East Village. It was here where he exhibited a new series of work “Equilibrium” that would help define him as one of the pre-eminent artists of his generation.

    “Koons’ first solo show, Equilibrium, was seen at ‘International With Monument’ in New York in 1985. His position as artist was marked out by two groups of work that have proved to be of central importance...there were bronze casts of a rubber dinghy, a diver’s jacket with oxygen tank, and diving goggles with snorkel. They were objects designed to preserve life. But, like the balls, they had been preserved in an eternal state of still life, of nature morte...The diving equipment cast in bronze was like a remote relic of life, like an implosion of energy and mass in upon themselves.”
    (A. Muthesius, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 1992, p. 8)

    Among the group of works included in the show was the present lot Snorkel (Dacor) executed in 1985. In part, it was a visual equilibrium which Koons was interested in commenting on through these works. Equilibrium is defined as “a state of balance between opposing forces or actions that is either static or dynamic.” The equilibrium created in the static cast bronze works is in fact contradictory, the balance is a fallacy. Should a visitor to the gallery had attempted to strap the bronze life preserver and snorkel to their body and mouth, they would surely drown. There is no literal balance achieved between these opposing forces.

    The bronzing of an object is a practice that has long been utilized by artists and non-artists alike. Proud new parents frequently bronze their baby’s shoes for posterity. It is by solidifying the object in bronze that it becomes special and lasting. The object’s original material is often fragile or temporal, but once it is bronzed, it becomes strong and nearly impenetrable. As in Jeff Koons’ Snorkel, the rubber that we commonly associate with the piece of diving equipment has been replaced with a harder bronze shell, subverting not only the original make-up of the object but also its implication as a life-saving device. The original rubber snorkel has become useless on its most basic tactile level, yet it is simultaneously transformed into an important work of contemporary art.


Snorkel (Dacor)

Cast bronze.
15 1/2 x 5 x 1 1/4 in. (39.4 x 12.7 x 3.2 cm).
This work is from an edition of three plus one artist’s proof.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Evening Sale
13 October 2007, 4pm