Hated Jeff Koons Public Artwork Approved for Sacramento Kings Arena

Despite local outcry, city council unanimously votes to bring Koons to Sacramento.

A rendering of Jeff Koon's Coloring Book sculpture at the Kings new arena. Photo: Sacramento Kings.

The Sacramento City Council is all in on Jeff Koons, voting to approve plans to install the artist’s Coloring Book sculpture outside the new Kings basketball arena despite outspoken opponents, reports the Sacramento Bee. All seven council members voted in favor.

The Tuesday night meeting was attended by over 240 people, an unusually large crowd. The crowd was evenly divided: 27 people signed up to speak in favor of the piece, equal to the number who looked to testify against it. Koons was triumphant despite local artist Marco Fuoco opining on local news television that local children researching Koons would inevitably find his pornographic works (see the video here).

When the Koons sculpture was announced late this past month (see $8 Million Jeff Koons Sculpture Commissioned by Sacramento Basketball Team), a backlash quickly emerged among Sacramento’s artistic community. The Kings had initially recommended the Koons sculpture to a nine-member panel from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, who soon voted to approve it.

Local artists, upset that they were not allowed to present proposals of their own, took to social media to voice their disapproval (see Jeff Koons Public Sculpture Spurs Viral Online Protest). The sculpture also became a hot-button issue at last week’s council meeting, despite not being on the agenda (see Jeff Koons Backlash Mounts at Sacramento City Council Meeting).

“Why are we buying what could be created here?” asked David Garibaldi, Sacramento-based performance artist who was among the first to speak out against the Koons piece on Twitter. “This is our opportunity to make a statement to the world that our arts are as important as our sports. We are creative and competitive.”

Local gallerist Barbara Range agreed, insisting that “we do have the artists that are here who are very capable to do a project of that stature.”

With the Koons work’s $7.5 million price tag, plus $500,000 for shipping and maintenance and a $1.5 million allotment for local art, the arena’s spending on public art far outstrips that of any other project in Sacramento history. The money for the local art, however, comes mostly from a donation from local arts patron Marcy Friedman—a gift that was dependent on the council’s approval of the Koons artwork.

“We have a rare opportunity for Sacramento to snare an extremely important piece of art by an internationally acclaimed artist,” Friedman said at the meeting. “It’s destined to become the most photographed image in Sacramento history.”

For more of artnet News’ coverage on Jeff Koons see:

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