Glenn Brown, Jeff Koons et al.
Inspiration – Contemporary Arts & Classics (group show)
Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki
18 June – 20 September 2020
How have international contemporary artists been inspired by the classics of European art? And why is it these works, in particular, that have become known around the world? Inspiration presents art that draws inspiration from iconic masterpieces, created by today’s most interesting contemporary artists. In the exhibition, the original works are referenced, for example, through replicas, prints, plaster casts and abundant archive materials.
The history of Western art includes a great number of works that have become famous throughout the world. The subjects of many of these works involve classical mythology, biblical stories, or notable people and events. This exhibition is a contemporary take on iconic works and stories from art history. Famous paintings and sculptures have served as inspiration for contemporary artists whose viewpoints range from veneration of old masters to critical contemplation of power structures.
This exhibition was originally on show at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in spring 2020.
Glenn Brown Studio
Ateneum Art Museum
on "Closed Eyes" (1890) by Odilon Redon for the Musée d’Orsay
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
18 February 2020
For the Musée d'Orsay's "Une oeuvre / Un regard", the British painter Glenn Brown chose "Closed Eyes" by Odilon Redon, a very enigmatic Work that "draws you in… to think about it, not just look at it".
Glenn Brown (British, 1966) is known for his use of art historical references in his paintings. Brown transforms the appropriated image by changing its color, position and size. His grotesque yet fascinating figures appear to be painted with thick impasto but are actually executed through the application of thin, swirling brushstrokes. His recent practice explore morphing and layering drawings from artists past, creating his particularly masterful amalgamations of lightness, action and form.
With the generous support of VSI Paris - CHINKEL SA
Absolute Value / From the Collection of Marie and Jose Mugrabi (solo show)
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv
10 March – 10 October 2020
Regarded by many as the most important, influential, popular, and controversial living artist in the world, Jeff Koons is a unique cultural phenomenon, whose resonances and influences extend far beyond the confines of the art world.
Koons (born 1955, York, Pennsylvania, USA) is the foremost of the American Neo-Pop artists who emerged in the 1980s and explored the meaning of art and spectacle in a media-saturated era, while adopting an aesthetics that accentuates the consumption culture that came to the fore at this time. The exhibition presents a selection of large-scale works from different periods in Koons’s career, from the 1980s to the present. The works are from the artist’s most renowned series, spanning his diverse spectrum of mediums and techniques.
Koons’s work undercuts the division between “good taste” and “bad taste,” mixing together “high” with “low” culture and kitsch. He continues the trajectory of 1960s Pop artists by making — with unprecedented intensity — an incriminating and fetishistic connection between art and the world of commodities. In his early career, Koons operated within the tradition started by Marcel Duchamp, presenting readymade objects, such as vacuum cleaners and basketballs, within illuminated display cases — thereby elevating commercial and domestic objects and highlighting the allure of new products. Later on in his career, various colorful kitsch images replaced the industrial products: puppies, flowers, teddy-bears, piglets, or other playthings made of porcelain or wood by craftsmen on Koons’ behalf. Koons further developed his practice of appropriating imagery from popular culture by inflating simple objects to huge dimensions in stainless steel, marble, or other materials. Other sculptures featured, in overblown extravagance, celebrities (such as Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga), inflatable pool toys, or cartoon characters (such as Popeye and the Hulk — themselves figures of bulging masculinity). These works were produced with extreme perfectionism, giving them an almost religious aura and rendering them highly coveted objects of desire for art collectors and the general public alike.
Absolute value is a mathematical concept, denoting size in numerical terms: the absolute value of a number is the distance between it and the zero point on the number axis. The use of this notion in the exhibition’s title raises the question of value as a fundamental notion in Koons’s art, and highlights the long controversy over the attribution of value (or lack thereof) to artistic objects (echoing the question of “Is it art?” asked with regard to Duchamp’s Fountain, which is a standard urinal). The concept also finds expression in Koons’s practice of merging together symbolic value and economic value, thereby creating an arena in which one cannot – and possibly shouldn’t — tell them apart. Not least, the title reflects a search for an imaginary distance (absolute value) within the span of art history, of which Koons’s art is both a part and deviation.
The “Jeff Koons phenomenon” precedes Jeff Koons’s actual works and the physical encounter with them. There are few artists whose works are so etched into the collective cultural memory that an encounter with any single artwork of theirs is suffused with associations of all the others. The title therefore posits Koons himself — the artist and the phenomenon — as an axiom of contemporary art: a controversial artist, who is also a phenomenon that cannot be dismissed, a genius, and a symbol of an era.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art