The exhibition “Jeff Koons Mucem. Works from the Pinault Collection”, designed in close collaboration with the American artist, presents some of his most famous works in Marseille. It also explores the relationship between these works and everyday objects, photographs and documents from the vast Mucem collection, a reference in the field of the popular arts.
A key artist of the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, Jeff Koons (born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, United States) draws his inspiration from daily life, everyday familiar objects, often rooted in American culture. By reinterpreting Marcel Duchamp’s readymade concept, Koons questions the very idea of the work of art. The range of subjects that interest him, the ever-present references to art history or to the advertising world, as well as the wide spectrum of techniques he employs, have contributed to making his work part of our collective imagination by offering a new view of our relationship to daily life and the objects that surround us. Although he focuses his perspicacious gaze on his own time, he is no less enthusiastic and curious about the artistic and popular material productions of the past. This interest in the everyday object makes the meeting between the artist and the Mucem collection a perfect playground.
Thanks to the exceptional loan of 20 works from the Pinault Collection, the exhibition offers a true discovery of the artist’s work punctuated by his landmark creations, sculptures like Balloon Dog (1994—2000) or Lobster (2007—2012), and paintings (like Backyard, 2002, or Dutch Couple, 2007). From the first works in the series The New, to pieces from the Celebration series that have become iconic, not forgetting the most recent creations like the "Gazing Bal"l and "Antiquity series", the exhibition chronologically follows the artist’s career over the last thirty-five years. It looks back at the iconographic themes, visual associations and modes of expression close to his heart. With this important loan, Pinault Collection is delighted to contribute to an exhibition mounted by a major national museum, all the more so the very year it is opening its Paris museum, the Bourse de Commerce to the public, and presenting a landmark exhibition dedicated to Bruce Nauman in Venice, at the Punta della Dogana.
But the originality of this exhibition lies in the meeting between Koons’ works and the Mucem’s collections. Each piece is related to a series of objects preserved by the museum to create a formal, symbolic or poetic conversation between Jeff Koons’ major works and the collections of popular art.
For the Mucem, the experience is an opportunity to offer a new reading of its collections: Koons revisits their history, plays with their plasticity and their polysemy, returns to the aesthetics of the object, sometimes give them a contemporary form, and creates and diverts their meaning along a free and spontaneous circuit.
The objects were chosen from the collections after a long and painstaking study of the Mucem’s storehouses. Jeff Koons explored the entire collection to select everyday objects, masterpieces of popular art, documents and photographs that pay homage to the variety present in the collections. The final choice that consisted of over 200 pieces was enriched by discussions about the meaning of the objects, their usage and shape, in order to invite the visitor to enjoy a contemplative stroll, where beauty emerges from an elementary objet and its resonance with the artist’s gaze.
Enhanced by an original scenography, very different to the usual methods of presenting contemporary art, the exhibition offers an original way of displaying Jeff Koons’ work through the links woven with the Mucem collections. “Jeff Koons Mucem” begins with New Hoover Convertible, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon Doubledecker (1981), an emblematic work from "The New" series. A vacuum cleaner is displayed in a Plexiglas box, opposite one of the ecological units preserved by the Mucem, a landmark historical museographic system used in the former popular arts and traditions museum. The visit ends with the monumental Bluebird Planter (2010-2016) from the "Antiquity" series, a work in stainless steel. Its mirror sheen and the translucent coloured covering create the illusion that the work was made by blowing up a small porcelain object. It converses with a series of bird-shaped objects, like bird whistles, finials and other small decorative objects.
After “Un génie sans piédestal, Picasso et les arts et traditions populaires” or “Jean Dubuffet, un barbare en Europe”, “Jeff Koons Mucem” is part of the series of exhibitions the museum dedicates to “intermediaries”, great artists who make sense of the societies they observe.
—Curators: Elena Geuna, independent exhibition curator, Emilie Girard, Head Heritage Conservator, Scientific director and Head of the Mucem’s collections
—Scenography: Pascal Rodriguez
—Partners: with the support of the Caisse d’Epargne CEPAC, the PwC France Foundation and Afrique Francophone and Interxion
This exhibition was facilitated by the Pinault Collections’ exceptional loan of twenty of Jeff Koons’ works.
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Full price: €14
Reduced price: €10
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