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Jeff Koons, Richard Prince et al.

Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s (group show)
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington
14 February – 13 May 2018

Jeff Koons, New! New Too!, 1983 © Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons, New! New Too!, 1983 © Jeff Koons

This spring, the Hirshhorn presents the ‘80s as you’ve never seen it before.  Brand New is the largest museum exhibition to explore the collision of art and commerce in the 1980s, an iconic decade when artwork emerged as a product and the artist, a brand.

Razor-sharp, witty, satirical, and deeply subversive, these more than 150 works from 66 of the most influential artists of the decade reveal the fascinating ways art infiltrated the worlds of advertising and business, launching a revolution that has come to define contemporary art today.

Organized chronologically, Brand New features rarely seen paintings, sculpture and installations from the biggest names in art today, alongside their lesser-known counterparts, including Ashley Bickerton, Jessica Diamond, General Idea, Peter Halley, Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Peter Nagy, Joel Otterson, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Haim Steinbach, Meyer Vaisman, and Julia Wachtel, among others. It also features key multimedia installations that recreated for the first time since the 80s, including seminal works by Barbara Bloom, Gretchen Bender, and Krzysztof Wodiczko.

Thirty years ago, seismic shifts in politics, economics and technology brought about a golden era of contemporary art in the United States, particularly in New York City, with its heady Wall Street wealth and gritty streets. During this time, artists became celebrities, brand names, and power brokers, selling themselves and their art as products, forming, in the process, the undisputed center of the contemporary art world.

Consumerism was quickly defining the decade, and the modern brand was driving social culture, led by major multinational companies like Pepsi, Nike, and CNN. It also saw the birth of major cultural forces that continue to shape our world today—MTV. Personal computing. Branding. New Wave. The AIDS epidemic. Reaganomics. Pop-ups. Madonna. Neon. Punk. Gentrification. Cable TV.

Many associate the art of the 1980s with large-scale painting or Neo-Expressionism, but Brand New suggests an alternative history. It looks instead at the key group of New York’s counterculture artists who appropriated the language of modern commerce—logos, advertising, products, even cable television—as a new and unprecedented medium for artistic creation. This radical approach to art making set them apart from artists who commanded the greatest market interest at the time, and by rethinking the connection between objects and concepts in the 1980s, they changed the landscape of the art world forever.

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington


Additional:

Jeff Koons

Masterpiece 2018 (solo presentation)
De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam
17 February - 8 April 2018

Jeff Koons, Gazing Ball (Perugino Madonna and Child with Four Saints), 2014–15. Property Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons, Gazing Ball (Perugino Madonna and Child with Four Saints), 2014–15. Property Jeff Koons

De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam will present Gazing Ball (Perugino Madonna and Child with Four Saints) as its 2018 Masterpiece. The work is from the Gazing Ball Paintings series by American artist Jeff Koons (b. 1955), which began in 2014. Gazing Ball (Perugino Madonna and Child with Four Saints) is a wondrous combination of a handpainted version of Madonna and Child with Four Saints (1500–01) by Italian Renaissance painter Perugino and a smooth cobalt-blue glass ball. From 17 February until 8 April 2018.

The series presents works of art so extraordinary that they are almost never loaned out, because of their fragility or their status as beloved favourites. Many of the works featured in the series have an obvious or unexpected religious or spiritual dimension. Each one is a work that calls for contemplation and introspection and dazzles visitors in the breath-taking surroundings of De Nieuwe Kerk’s gothic interior.

De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam


Jeff Koons

Plato in LA: Contemporary Artists' Visions (group show)
The Getty Villa, Los Angeles
18 April – 3 September 2018

Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994–2014 © Jeff Koons.
Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994–2014 © Jeff Koons.

Richard Prince

Richard Prince: Untitled (Cowboy) (solo show)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
3 December 2017 - 25 March 2018

In two photographic series from the 2010s, publicly exhibited for the first time, Richard Prince (United States, b. 1949) continues his career-long engagement with the motif of the cowboy. Untitled (cowboy), recently acquired by LACMA, and Untitled (original cowboy) achieve the grandeur of 19th-century history painting while also deconstructing the iconography of the American West. Once again challenging the conventional meanings and limits of the photographic medium, Prince reignites debates he sparked some 40 years ago.

In the mid-1970s, Prince was an aspiring painter working in Time Inc.’s tear sheet department, clipping texts for magazine writers. After he removed the articles, he was left with advertisements: glossy pictures of commodities, models, and other objects of desire. Between 1980 and 1992, Prince paid particular attention to the motif of the cowboy, as depicted in a series of advertisements for Marlboro cigarettes. Prince began to re-photograph the advertisements, cropping and enlarging them to make limited-edition prints as artworks of his own. Prince’s re-photography had an explosive effect on the art world, provoking lawsuits and setting auction records. With this controversial practice, he redefined what it means to “take” a photograph.

For his 2015–16 Untitled (cowboy) photographs, Prince revisited copies of TIME from the 1980s and 1990s using contemporary technology. In contrast to this studio-based manipulation, for the 2013 series Untitled (original cowboy) Prince went to Utah, seeking out quintessential viewpoints established by legions of photographers—tourists and artists alike—who preceded him. Extending his interrogation of this particular American protagonist into the era of Instagram, Prince demonstrates that the stakes around originality, appropriation, and truth in advertising are as high as ever.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles


Jeff Koons

Heaven and Earth: Alexander Calder and Jeff Koons (group show)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
21 October 2017 – 31 March, 2019

Jeff Koons, Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Dr. JK Silver Series), 1985. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, 1995.55.a–k. © Jeff Koons Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago
Jeff Koons, Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Dr. JK Silver Series), 1985. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, 1995.55.a–k. © Jeff Koons Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

For the MCA’s 50th anniversary, we are bringing together two of the most important artists in the museum’s history, as well as icons of the last 100 years. Heaven and Earth: Alexander Calder and Jeff Koons finds common ground between these seemingly disparate artists, with Alexander Calder’s weightless sculptures nominally representing “heaven” and Jeff Koons’s celebrations of the mundane and concrete as “earth.” This pairing highlights both artists’ interest in playing with balance and gravity to make compelling sculptural statements, while reveling in the contrasts between high art aspirations and mundane material choices.

[...]

In the early 1980s, Koons (American, b. 1954) ushered in an influential new era of art with works that borrow from liquor advertisements or posters of basketball legends, as well as over-the-top celebrations of household goods like vacuum cleaners, in order to redefine the boundaries of taste. His star power was recognized early on and the MCA organized his first museum exhibition in 1988, and revisited his work with a major survey in 2008. Thanks to many generous gifts, the MCA collection holds his work in depth.

This playful and unexpected pairing of two of the most recognized artists of the modern era have an extended presence in the MCA’s galleries and will be updated periodically with substitutions by both artists.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago


Richard Prince

Proof of Life (group show)
Weserburg I Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen
20 May 2017 - 25 February 2018

The construction of the Tower of Babel as a massacre. The artist as a dead revolutionary. A stained-glass window made from butterfly wings. Proof of Life brings together 100 paintings, sculptures and photographic works that investigate existential questions in a both palpable and profound manner. Their aesthetic impact inevitably draws the viewer into its spell. What these works bring to view is linked to a tradition of influential pictures, some of which go far back in time. The presented works simultaneously quote, seduce, irritate, provoke and thematize concepts of moral values. This includes a summons not only to situate in historical terms what is being seen, but also to relate it quite concretely to the present. The works come from a private collection that has never before been publicly presented in this form.

Proof of Life raises the question as to whether and why such images anchored in our memory are still relevant today. The exhibition shows how striking pictorial models are updated in a surprising manner and transformed into new visual inventions. The artistic results are simultaneously fascinating and shocking; the aesthetic experiences they make possible are complex and revelatory. They become documents and symbols of our present era and thus vital signs of contemporary culture.
“The exhibition derives its strength from the impact of the pictures, which in no way excludes deeper insights but instead fosters them. The works don’t immobilize us in wordless veneration but cause astonishment, questioning and doubt which we relate directly to the present. Fundamental questions raised by this exhibition are how art possesses this capability and why certain age-old motifs don’t become petrified manifestations in a museum but instead remain extremely lively.” Peter Friese, Director of the Weserburg

Weserburg I Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen