Wednesday, July 24, 2002

A Jeff Koons retrospective is opening at my friendly neighborhood Museum of Fine Arts. Koons' oeuvre --- celebrated pieces include replicas of inflatable toy bunny rabbits in precious metals, a life-size white porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson and his pet chimp (one of three replicas recently went for $5.6 million), and hard core self portraits of the artist and his then-wife, a well known porn star, simultaneously engaged in both their respective professions (the "Made in Heaven" series) --- has been praised for its ability to engage the common man:

... writing in The Village Voice a couple of years ago, Jerry Saltz proclaimed ''Puppy'' - the giant West Highland terrier blanketed in begonias and other flora - ''a masterpiece. ... In some quintessentially Jeffersonian way, `Puppy' renders all who see it equal. It is the rare work of art that laymen can talk about with the same degree of confidence and authority that those in the art world bring to it.''

But the common man doesn't always get it:

Koons tells the MFA cleaning crew, who are reverently dusting Michael Jackson, about the time he found a staff member at another museum using one of his vacuum cleaners as a vacuum cleaner, at which point it ceased to be art. ''The piece is about purity,'' Koons says. ''Everything in it has to be unused.''


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