Greedy Jeff Koons, bored of dominating the contemporary scene, has for years wanted to get himself the canon. See his replicas where the lower centre of each canvas is dominated by the contemporary artist’s addition of a glass ball in the same deep lapis lazuli that is so prominent in the Venetian’s painting.
Here is the seated ballerina in the centre of the room made of Koons’s trademark immaculately shining steel.
The first thing you want to look at is your own head reflected in one of those blue globes. Koons’s original Gazing Ball
sculptures debuted at New York’s David Zwirner gallery in 2013, and a series of paintings was shown at Gagosian last year.
Many of these ones are new, and like the rest they are selfie-ready, positively inviting gallery-goers to point their smartphones at them. You are constantly reminded of yourself, standing in Koons’s commodified vision of art, an ever-present consumer.
Even a true Koons sceptic (like me) will find some subtlety here.
Art history’s hall of fame becomes a hall of mirrors: wherever you can see a Giotto, a Titian or a Tintoretto, there’s a Koons sculpture alongside it and reflected within it.
In Koons’s opinion, he belongs with the greats. Or ahead of them: each canvas is simply entitled Gazing Ball
, with the names of the originals and their creators tagging along in parentheses.
The paintings, executed by Koons and his army of studio assistants, record every last detail down to patina and craquelure, but they are all a bit too regular. The surface of Goltzius’s Hercules and Cacus
appears as flat as the Giotto, and it takes a proper look to confirm that the copies are painted rather than screen-printed.
Koons’s Gazing Ball
series, unlike much of his work, appeals immediately to the brain as well as the eye. Whether his art belongs on equal footing with the Old Masters is up for debate, but at least he’s making his case in more interesting ways.