Yep, if Charles Pheonix is King of all things Kitsch in Los Angeles, then Jeff Koons must be crowned King of Kitsch in contemporary art. Googling Jeff Koons and looking at a wall of images of his work made me think of a little boy who was let loose in a 1950's toy shop. Full of vibrant colours, shiny surfaces, giant sized balloon toys and...boobies! Koons' work definitely excites the little kid in all of us and he uses the colour pink A LOT in his work! I've decided on Pink Panther as I'm particularly interested in porcelain at the moment and how it is used in contemporary art.
Koons has created a number of large works in porcelain, probably his most famous Michael Jackson and Bubbles. I saw this work in San Francisco last year and I was completely blown away by it. It was lush, large, opulent and gob smacking! Images on google do not do it justice and I would imagine Pink Panther would have the same effect.
Googling Pink Panther, I found that I had to scroll through the first few pages of articles relating to it's recent sale on the art market, most of them predicting it hitting an all time high price for an artwork sold by a living artist. This is very common for Koons' work; the price it fetches. He has created a career that is controversial within the artworld. Critics either love him or hate him. Whatever your opinion of him, he is an artist that cannot be ignored.
With a luscious finish due to the use of porcelain, Pink Pather was created in 1988, stands at 104.1cm (41") and creates a scenario that is far removed from our reality. A Jayne Mansfield character stands tall and proud in a curvacious and fun pose as if just about to step out into wonderland. She lovingly holds cartoon character Pink Panther, who seems to have surrendered to his fate. Both these characters would have been present in Koon's American upbringing in the late fifties and early sixties and the influence of porcelain reminds us of our Grandma's kitsch collection of porcelain statuettes on her mantle piece or display cabinet.
By using these two characters, Pink Panther brings our attention to what is real and what isn't. Jayne Mansfield may have been a real woman living an ordinary life, but her on screen character was fused with publicity stunts, mainly of her boobs 'accidentally' falling out of her dress at inappropriate (or appropriately depending on how one saw it) times and steamy love affairs. Her off screen 'character' was a mother of five children and it was reported she was a proud homemaker.
Pink Panther is a commentary on pop culture and how we are seduced by it. It reflects on what is reality and non-reality between what we see and what we want to see and the distance we have with our own lives and the lives that are created on screen.
Below is an intriguing interview with Koons discussing Pink Panther. There is definitely something really, really strange about this man! He mentions an ashtray his Grandparents had that I sooooo want in my life right now!
Enjoy the video and it's soundtrack!