Archive: Art in Italy
Destroyed and Reconstructed – Lucio Fontana’s mesmerizing neon installations

Destroyed and Reconstructed – Lucio Fontana’s mesmerizing neon installations

Lucio Fontana - Struttura al Neon per la IX Triennale di Milano, 1951:2017, installation view at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, 2017. Photo Agostino Osio
Lucio FontanaStruttura al Neon per la IX Triennale di Milano, 1951/2017, installation view at Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, 2017
Photo: Agostino Osio

About Lucio Fontana

Lucio Fontana’s interest in technological and scientific advancements that occurred during the 20th century largely inspired his approach to a wide array of methods and mediums. For instance, he has worked with stone, neon, ceramics and even metals. As a painter, he went beyond two-dimensional surfaces by engaging technology as a means to attain expressions of the 4th dimension. By going beyond the expected, Lucio managed to create an innovative and new aesthetic dialect that blended painting, sculpture, and architecture.

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Carsten Höller’s slides: A fun way to experience museums

Carsten Höller’s slides: A fun way to experience museums

Carsten Höller - Test Site, 2007, New Museum, New York - Exhibition Experience, 2011
Carsten HöllerTest Site, 2007, New Museum, New York – Exhibition: Experience, 2011

Carsten Höller is well known for playfully including his slide installations in major museums across the world. Höller, who is formerly a scientist with a degree in agronomy, is famous for repurposing components of the real world, such as slides, for art spaces. The majority of his works feature aesthetics that are relational, meaning that the projects created are inspired by the relationship that people have with their social contexts. The end result of Höller’s incredible work is an experience that resembles part playground and part lab, which is a crowd pleaser.

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Rainbows and the sound of breath fill up space – Kimsooja

Rainbows and the sound of breath fill up space – Kimsooja

Kimsooja – To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
KimsoojaTo Breathe – A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

Kimsooja is a Korean-born artist that has won recognition around the world. Despite living in New York, her work is exhibited across Europe, Asia and America. Her work includes performances, photographs, installations and videos. Her work involves a number of subjects like relationships with others, nomadism and the role of women among other people in dealing with challenges that we meet every day.

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Would you pay $58m for Jeff Koon’s shiny balloon dog?

Would you pay $58m for Jeff Koon’s shiny balloon dog?

Jeff Koons - Balloon Dog (Orange), executed in 1994-2000

Jeff Koons - Balloon Dog (Orange), executed in 1994-2000
Jeff KoonsBalloon Dog (Orange), executed in 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307 x 363 x 114cm, one of five unique versions (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow)
Sold at Christie’s in 2013 for US$ 58,405,000

Jeff Koon’s professional life

When it comes to the critique of Jeff Koons’ work, there are often two schools of thought. On one side, there’s a small group of naysayers that think that his artworks are crass and more of marketing gimmicks than art. On the other hand, most critics and sharp minds in the art scene consider him as a pioneer of the neo-pop art movement. In his defense, Koons has asserted that there’s “no hidden meaning” in his works. Nonetheless, no one can dispute the fact that Jeff Koons is one of the most important contemporary artists of our time.

While he made his debut in the art arena with “The New” series at the onset of the 1980s, it wasn’t until 1986 that he sprang into the limelight. Together with colleagues Ashley Bickerton, Peter Halley, and Meyer Vaisman, Jeff Koons made major headlines (including the front page of New York Times) when they jumped from International With Monument gallery to Sonnabend Gallery. In 1988, Koons cashed on his fame by unveiling his much-acclaimed Banality series. And that’s when his career really took off.

In the past three decades or so, Jeff Koons has unveiled one gem of an artwork after another. His well-known work, Michael Jackson and the Bubbles – a banal sculpture based on the king of pop and his famous chimpanzee, has been very popular and equally controversial. But that’s what he’s known for: a “knack for genre-bending.”

Controversial or not, his works have been immensely successful. In fact, he sold one of his much-acclaimed works – the Balloon Dog (Orange) – at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York for a whopping $58.4 million. This blew beyond the estimated value of $55 million to set the world record auction price for an artwork by an existing artist. Previously, Jeff Koons had sold another artwork for $33.7 million. That’s no small feat for an artist known for using banal and pop-related objects.

Balloon Dogs

The Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons is a work of art that is about celebration for different purposes and times; A simple artwork which in its elegance would evoke a cheery scream from children if showcased at a children’s party. The Balloon Dog sculpture is made from very simple materials – stainless steel and covered with different colours: blue, magenta, orange, red and yellow. There was nothing left out of the creation even though it stands ten feet and weighs a ton. The artwork looks like a balloon twisted to shape to form a dog.

The Balloon Dog was a part of Jeff Koon’s well-known Celebration series from the early 1990s. It has been exhibited all around the world and these sculptures have been sold at huge amounts of money at different auctions. Koons said he only wanted to create a piece that showed the joys of having a celebration when he created the sculpture. As much as his own ideals were different, his work, the Balloon Dog has gone on to make him the creator of the most expensive artwork sold at auction by a living artist. Each edition of the series has sold for a different price at different times but the one that sold at the highest amount of money remains the Balloon Dog (Orange) which sold for $58,405,000 in November 2013, the highest ever paid for a piece of art by a living artist at auction anywhere in the world.

The Balloon Dog (Orange) has a very beautiful colour on a giant swollen body that has a reflective surface. This sculpture depicts weightlessness despite its huge size and heavy weight of one ton. The balloon form was made while paying utmost attention to precise details. There is a knot which serves as the nose, the twists and crimps that show the limbs are well placed and the dog’s tail which is erect and yet looks like rubber. The artist is known for making use of exact standards in his work and the Balloon Dog (Orange) is not an exception. This faultless and flawless creation is admired and loved by the audience. As much work was put into this work of art, the result is an extraordinarily beautiful sculpture which is pleasing to the eyes and makes it an enjoyable sight to behold.

Awards and Recognition

Controversial, effusive, and captivating, Jeff Koons’ artworks have not gone unnoticed. He has received a multitude of honors, accolades, and awards in recognition for his contribution to the world of contemporary art. In 2000, he was awarded the BZ Cultural Award from the City of Berlin, and a year later received the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture. In 2002, he was designated a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor before being elevated to Officier five years later (2007). In 2008, he received the Wollaston Award from the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and the Medal of Arts from the US State Department in 2013. Lastly but not least, Jeff Koons received the annual Honorary Membership Award for Outstanding Contribution to Visual Culture from the Edgar Wind Society, the University of Oxford in 2017.

Other notable work

Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988 is a larger-than-life banal sculpture has over the years been one of the most controversial works ever created by Jeff Koons.

Jeff Koons - Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994-2000 mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, Christie’s, NYC
Jeff KoonsBalloon Dog (Orange), executed in 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307 x 363 x 114cm, one of five unique versions (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow), Christie’s, NYC, USA
Sold at Christie’s in 2013 for US$ 58,405,000

Jeff Koons - Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994-2000 mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut
Jeff KoonsBalloon Dog (Orange), executed in 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307 x 363 x 114cm, one of five unique versions (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow), The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut, USA
Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Jaume Plensa’s stunning larger-than-life sculptures

Jaume Plensa’s stunning larger-than-life sculptures

Jaume Plensa - Paula, 2013, Bronze, 179 x 63 x 63 cm, Toledo Museum of Art, 2016, Photo The Blade:Andy Morrison

Jaume Plensa
Jaume Plensa

Jaume Plensa is arguably one of the top sculptors today. He is largely known for creating huge-sized ethereal sculptures, and has also worked with different other types of contemporary art media, including from acoustic installations to video projections.

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This artwork looks like an accident scene

This artwork looks like an accident scene

Elmgreen Dragset - Shortcut (2013)
Elmgreen & DragsetShort Cut, 2003, Mixed-media installation, 250 x 850 x 300 cm

ABOUT SHORT CUT

In Short Cut (2003), Elmgreen and Dragset installed a run-of-the-mill white Fiat Uno in Milan’s quintessential strolling and gathering place for all tourists and residents, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.

The work is a metaphor for global tourism, but also a symbol for the precarious nature of today’s world. It also describes a universe in movement that travels along endless, unpredictable paths towards fanciful destinations. The first impression of passers-by is that they have come across an accident scene: the floor is cracked and the wheels of the car are stuck among shards of the mosaic. Short Cut sparks reactions and debate throughout the city; animated clusters of people gather around the installation. On the morning that the exhibition opens, the traffic police leave a ticket on the car for parking in an unauthorized area, and two members of the city council ask for it to be removed; to demonstrate their disapproval, they stage a protest in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, eating a pizza next to the installation.

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