Jeff Koons: Shine
Location: Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze
October 02, 2021 – January 30, 2022
This autumn, Palazzo Strozzi in Florence will host a major exhibition by Jeff Koons opening on 02 October 2021. Curated by Arturo Galansino and Joachim Pissarro, the exhibition will bring to Florence a wide selection of the most celebrated works by Jeff Koons who, from the mid-70s to the present day, has forged a reputation as one of the most important and controversial figures in the contemporary art world.
Developed in close collaboration with the artist, the exhibition entitled Jeff Koons. Shine will host loans from some of the world’s most important collections and museums, exploring the concept of “shine” in Koons’s work – an ambiguous idea that oscillates between the dualities of being and seeming, or truth and sensation.
The chosen artworks illustrate the story of a career that has spanned over forty years, from Koons’s glistening metal sculptures replicating luxury objects like Baccarat Crystal Set (1986) to his iconic inflatables such as Rabbit (1986) and Balloon Dog (Red) (1994-2000).
In addition, the exhibition will highlight Koons’s revisitation of pop culture and his historic reinvention of the readymade through works such as Hulk (Tubas) (2004-2018) and One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. JK 241 Series) (1985).
The creator of works that have entered our collective imagination due to their ability to merge the academic with popular culture through their references to art history and allusions to the world of consumer society, Koons has found a key principle in the idea of “shine” for his innovative sculptures and installations, which set out to question our relationship with reality but also the very concept of a work of art.
To Koons, shine to is a concept that goes beyond the decorative to become an intrinsic element of his art. Endowed with a reflective quality, his artworks heighten our metaphysical understanding of time and space, surface and depth, materiality and immateriality.
The American artist’s works place the observer before a mirror in which they can at once see themselves within their environment and thus experience affirmation. As Koons puts it: “The job of the artist is to make a gesture and really show people what their potential is. It’s not about the object, and it’s not about the image; it’s about the viewer. That’s where the art happens.”
Taking inspiration from Marcel Duchamp, Koons has developed works throughout his career that have sparked critical debate and courted controversy and acclaim in equal measure. Yet, Koons’s combination of pop, conceptual and post-modern influences uniquely demonstrate how the art object acts as a larger metaphor for society and community.
In 2021 Jeff Koons: Shine aims to lead the way in Italy’s cultural recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, continuing Palazzo Strozzi‘s lively dialogue between the traditional and the new with the production of contemporary exhibitions with prominent artists of today within the context of its Renaissance historical architecture.
“We at Palazzo Strozzi have been working for several years to produce this major exhibition on Jeff Koons, one of the most significant figures in contemporary art at the global level, thus continuing the sequence of exhibitions that Palazzo Strozzi has devoted to the most important players on the contemporary art scene,” says Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi Director General and exhibition co-curator Arturo Galansino, “For the very first time in this exhibition we are exploring a unique and characteristic aspect of Koons‘ art, namely the reflective and luminous quality of his work.
Shine, the word that gives the exhibition its title, is the key principle in the sculptures and paintings on display in the setting of Palazzo Strozzi’s austere 15th century architecture, in what is an essential dialogue between the artworks’ Platonic forms and the ‘golden rule’ of a perfect showcase for them. Producing one of Jeff Koons‘ most important exhibitions in Florence means interpreting the city as a modern cultural capital capable of playing an active part in the artistic avant-garde of our time”.
“Jeff Koons often insists on the humanitarian dimension of his role as an artist – says exhibition curator Joachim Pissarro – Indeed, it is fair to say that Koons’s work touches and affects humankind all of us in our diversity. There is something immediately compelling, in Jeff’s work, something that speaks to our innermost heart.
Yet, his work is far from facile. Its impact is direct and forceful, yet, the layers of meaning, the complexities and richness of his work are inexhaustible. To be able to see his work in Florence today is particularly rich and significant: it resonates as deeply with the tradition of the Renaissance as it provides us with intense joy and aesthetic fulfillment. That is the mystery of Jeff Koons.”
The exhibition is promoted and organised by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi. Sponsors: Comune di Firenze, Regione Toscana, Camera di Commercio di Firenze, Fondazione CR Firenze, Palazzo Strozzi Partners Committee. Main Partner: Intesa Sanpaolo.