Jeff Koons Explains Why His Art Is Actually Anti-Consumerist

He believes he hasn't reached his full potential yet.

Jeff Koons posing in front of his sculpture Balloon Venus (Orange) (2008-12) Photo: Herbert Neubauer/APA via Der Standard

Jeff Koons posing in front of his sculpture Balloon Venus (Orange) (2008-12)
Photo: Herbert Neubauer/APA via Der Standard

Jeff Koons was in Vienna for the unveiling of his Balloon Venus (Orange) (2008-12) statue at the city’s Natural History museum. Koons’s creation was exhibited to mark the opening of a new gallery dedicated to the museum’s star attraction, the 29,500-year-old Venus of Willendorf.

In an interview with Austrian daily Der Standard, the most expensive living American artist spoke about money, sex, luxury, and his relationship to the art market.

He denied that the discourse surrounding the market prices for his work influenced his creative process, calling the market “an abstraction.”

Balloon Venus (Orange) (2008-12) by Jeff Koons Photo: Herbert Neubauer/APA via Der Standard

Jeff Koons Balloon Venus (Orange) (2008-12) 
Photo: Herbert Neubauer/APA via Der Standard

“It lies outside of my influence,” Koons claimed. “My series Luxury and Degradation (1986) was all about the danger of chasing luxury. Everything was made of stainless steel, an artificial luxury, a proletarian material. I could have melted it and turned it into pots and pans.”

It turns out that his message was anti-consumerist all along.

He explained, “I tried to show people that they should learn to preserve their political and economic power rather than strive for luxury.”

The artist offered insights into his own understanding of luxury, saying “I have no sports car. There are certain things that I treat myself to, for example I sometimes I take a helicopter to travel to my farm, but I don’t live a luxurious lifestyle.”

The artist was speaking a the Vienna Museum of Natural History Photo: synthesys.info

The artist was speaking at the Vienna Museum of Natural History.
Photo: synthesys.info

“I don’t give the market what it wants,” Koons claimed. “Otherwise I would always be producing the same thing. I do what I want. Just because I’m successful doesn’t mean that I serve the market.”

Rather than money or luxury, Koons explained, his motivation lies in reaching his full artistic potential. “I haven’t achieved my full potential yet,” he insisted. “That’s what I want to achieve. I want to experience transcendence and enlightenment.”

The artist spoke of how “every day I think of walking out of Plato’s cave. I want to exercise freedom in order to reach an even greater understanding of what freedom is.”


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