Cy Twombly – Bacchus, Eiserner Vorhang (Iron Curtain) 2010-11, Vienna State Opera, Vienna, Austria
Safety Curtain is an on-going exhibition series taking place in the Vienna State Opera, Austria. The exhibition transforms the safety curtain into a temporary show for contemporary artists every year. The Vienna Opera has been hosting art shows since 1869 and tries to find new and interesting ways to address viewers as well as attract new audiences. However, it is also well known for being a world-class destination for global opera lovers as well as Renaissance Revival architecture.
For now 20 seasons, the Vienna Opera’s safety curtain has included art that has been specifically made for the opera house. The Safety curtain has featured a list of impressive artists such as John Baldessari, Cy Twombly, Tacita Dean, Matthew Barney, Jeff Koons, David Hockney, and Franz West just to mention a few of the famous names.
Gimhongsok – Canine Construction, 2009, 164x231x90cm
This Canine Construction by South Korean artist, Gimhongsok is one that anyone would fall in love with, coupled with the enigmatic quality it has. This work is the sculpture of a dog remains one of the artist’s most well-known works in recent times. The creation involved using garbage bags, balloons, cardboard boxes, all assembled with expensive materials like resin.
Jeff Koons – Balloon 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
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 $58,405,000 in November 2013, the highest ever paid for a piece of art by a living artist at auction anywhere in the world.
The Balloon Dog (Orange) has a very beautiful colour on a giant swollen body that has a reflective surface. This sculpture depicts weightlessness despite its huge size and heavy weight of one ton. The balloon form was made while paying utmost attention to precise details. There is a knot which serves as the nose, the twists and crimps that show the limbs are well placed and the dog’s tail which is erect and yet looks like rubber. The artist is known for making use of exact standards in his work and the Balloon Dog (Orange) is not an exception. This faultless and flawless creation is admired and loved by the audience. As much work was put into this work of art, the result is an extraordinarily beautiful sculpture which is pleasing to the eyes and makes it an enjoyable sight to behold.
Jeff Koons – Balloon Dog (Orange), executed in 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307 x 363 x 114cm, one of five unique versions (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow), Christie’s, NYC, USA
Sold at Christie’s in 2013 for US$ 58,405,000
Jeff Koons – Balloon Dog (Orange), 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
Jeff Koons – Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988
Ceramic, 106.7 x 179.1 x 82.5 cm
There have been many stars and singers that have contributed to music in many progressive ways. Yet no one comes close to the influence that the iconic Michael Jackson has left on the music industry. Imagery of him is fairly well known. The pop-culture icon has been seen in various stages of his life and career, physically ever-changing in front of our eyes. Jeff Koons created a famous life-sized porcelain sculpture depicting the now late and legendary Michael Jackson leaning back on a flower bed while on his lap rests his pet chimpanzee Bubbles who holds a white cloth. Jackson and Bubbles wear similar clothing, and are colored similarly while parts of their bodies mirror with each other.
Bubbles, the real life chimpanzee, was purchased by Jackson from a Texas research facility in 1985. He was a very important figure in the eyes of Michael and became a constant sight at almost all of Michael Jackson’s performances and concert arenas and cities. Koons used a press photo of Jackson and Bubbles for his sculpture, and it is nearly indistinguishable to the photo.
When the porcelain sculpture was first revealed, Koons produced three editions, many of Jackson’s fans were offended by how the porcelain made Jackson appear white and feminine (although there doesn’t seem to be any complaints about his hair being gold…). Koons however, really doesn’t care about the complaints and criticism over Jackson’s gender neutral appearance within this piece. The art, he believes, transcends gender- as Koons explains, Jackson is the contemporary Apollo.
In this piece Jackson is that of a Greek god, beautiful and golden- considering that this was created in 1988 it is ironic considering the way that M.J has been immortalized as pop royalty, who may have passed physically, but has transcended in space and time through his music and dance. Bubbles looks wise and all-knowing as he sits on M.J’s lap and gazes at the audience while Jackson gazes lovingly at his companion.
This piece now is a beautiful representation of Jackson’s younger days before he was othered by some and deified by others. The gold almost depicts a time when anything MJ touched turned to gold.
In total three editions of Michael Jackson and Bubbles came into existence, all three can be found separately at the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and another one in Athens.
Jeff Koons next to his artwork Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988
Ceramic, 106.7 x 179.1 x 82.5 cm, at Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland, 2012