Jay-Z Performed in Front of a Giant Jeff Koons Balloon Dog—With the Artist’s Blessing

"Jeff has always been a fan."

L: Jay Z performing at a concert. Photo: Guillaume Baptiste/AFP/GettyImages. R: Jeff Koons's Balloon Dog (Orange) (1994-2000) , courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

In his song “Picasso Baby,” Jay-Z raps “Jeff Koons balloons, I just wanna blow up.” The hip-hop star did just that this past weekend when he performed at the V Festival in Staffordshire—to rave reviews—in front of a 40-foot, inflatable Jeff Koons balloon dog as his sole background stage prop.

Social media shots show the so-called “King of Rap” giving a spirited performance of material from his latest album, with the giant metallic dog—and little else—in the background. “[W]ith hood pulled over his baseball cap, face hidden, [he launched] into a five-track blitz from his latest album, the dark, often brilliant 4:44,” according to the Guardian.

It’s not clear what—if any—color this Koons pooch was since the concert lighting alternated between making it orange and blue in the shots we saw.

Jay-Z’s admiration for Koons is well-documented, but we were curious about how the giant stage display came about: Did Jay-Z have to request permission from Koons? Did Koons or his studio supply this replica for the rap mogul? If so, is it considered an original artwork and where will it go next?

“Jeff worked with Jay-Z and his team in creating the 40-foot-tall inflatable Balloon Dog for Jay-Z’s festival dates,” a rep for Koons told artnet News in an email. “Jeff has always been a fan.”

Roc Nation records, which released the 4:44 album, had not responded to artnet News’s request for comment as of publication time.




Followers of Koons know that the top-selling artist has sometimes been protective of his signature inflated puppy imagery where (ahem) copycats have been concerned. More recently, artnet News was contacted by manufacturers in China claiming to offer a wide array of customizable mid-size balloon puppy knock-offs. Koons’s studio never responded to our inquiries about these.

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