Jeff Koons has more than 120 Assistants

The 20 year old me would have been horrified at hearing that an artist has 120+ assistants. (Thirteen years ago I also thought money was evil, politicians were looking after us, life was endless, and people were good.) But now I think it’s absolutely amazing that one artist could sell enough work to support 120+ workers. The purist in me still wants to rant but I just don’t go there anymore.

jeff koons studioThe Art Newspaper spoke with Jeff Koons in his studio about his current exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London and his studio/factory.

Here’s a Q&A from the Art Newspaper interview..

TAN: It must be daunting running an operation of this scale. Are you ever tempted to go back to making work by yourself?

Jeff Koons: I used to make all my own sculpture, my paintings, but if I did that it would severely limit the range of projects that I could be involved with. I follow my interests in some way that feels profound to me, those that seem to have a deeper meaning. I feel completely free to do whatever I want to do. But I have to edit my work a lot, because of the process, the amount of time it takes to actually make things, you really have to make the things you want to make, otherwise you’re wasting a lot of energy.

Read the full interview here.

The Serpentine Gallery exhibition in London is showing until the 13th of September. It’s a collection of paintings and sculptures from his Popeye series.

jeff koons popeye series painting
Jeff Koons
Popeye 2003
Oil on canvas 274.3 x 213.4 cm
© 2008 Jeff Koons

I was going to say that Jeff Koons also has one of the best websites of any super-famous artist, but he ruined it by using Flash. Now I can’t even get past his splash screen. I click Enter and nothing. Artists have no idea with websites. I don’t want moving, flashing, screaming, multi-colored, or cluttered artist websites. I just want to see art.. clever websites are just stupid. Here’s a link to an internal page of his website as I just couldn’t get past his silly welcome page.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.

Comments

  1. I come across more badly designed websites for London art galleries than grotty websites for artists. It makes me wonder why they bother. I guess somebody told them that it was fashionable to have an internet presence, but they’re clueless how to make it look good and be user-friendly for potential clients. They simply make me click the back arrow and go elsewhere.

  2. OK, you have shown a great level of maturity in not ranting… I’m not mature, not in the slightest.

    I agree that supporting 120+ people through his artwork, Mr koons is doing a fantastic job, but I object to both the term and consequences of the phrase ‘assistant’.

    Take this:

    Jeff Koons
    Popeye 2003
    Oil on canvas 274.3 x 213.4 cm
    © 2008 Jeff Koons

    It’s not true. I mean, sure he holds the copyright, but inherent in this small packet of data is the suggestion that it was created in its entirety by the man himself…

    These people are not assistants (OK some of them are, they probably make coffee and such), but surely they are collaborators in an artistic endeavour?

    And that means their names should be appearing there, and the fact that they don’t… well, that just highlights that Jeff Koons is not a creator, he’s a brand name.

    I have the same problem with artists like Damien Hirst (actually I have more of a problem with him). And it’s not like it is a new concept, I suppose, but it lacks honesty and integrity.

    OK, rant over, thanks for listening.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have the same issue with “factory” art/artists. The people who actually perform the labour never get the credit. I’d have less of an issue with this if Mr. koons and other “artists” actually rolled up their sleeves and did some of the actual work once in awhile.

    Mr. Koons also needs to stop using the word “projects” and use the correct phrase “products” when he talks about the stuff that comes out of his factory.

  4. Maybe he is just lazy. His ideas certainly are. I have made a painting as large in the last two weeks, and I made the streched canvas from work scrap material and lumber yard wood. Of course I worked on the Idea for months, worked it out through many drawings and small scale paintings, so that actually doing can be in under a month. Hell, Picasso made the huge Guernica is less than that.

    He is a corporation, and if you want asembly line stuff, and got the money to blow, go right at it. Problem is, all this crap hides and misdirects away from true creative art. I wouldnt mind if it was listed as Fine art, and that Creative art had a different purpose than amusing and validating the rich and their life styles.

    I dont care who makes it, an assembly line would be fine it it produced real art, things of passion, purpose,and humanity. But its not, so no different than the Paitner of Lights factories in China turning out tons of reproduced garbage for his Kincaide galleries. To each his own, but they have overhwlemed the market and defintion of art between them.

    Time to tear it all down boys. It is done every few generations, but will never come for the bosum of the powers that be, the Academies, who they fund and make sure fits their desires. Not those of vast humanities, where a work should visually or auditorially strike straight to the passions, no words, no justifications, but getting straight to what art is and has always been, Defining humanity, exploring nature, searching for god. Somehow, I fail to see that in either of these gentlemens works. Guess its just me. Or is it?

    Those I talk to outside of art just do what we have for decades now, just shrug our shoulders, and say, Its art. Meaning, its stupid and by babies. But Artistes jsut dont get it. The world doesnt care anymore, why? Think about it, and act upon it, in your own way, Thats all that is needed or asked of us. Just do it.

    Another shining example of the age of Meism and Excess
    Art collegia delenda est

  5. And bells and whistles are meant to cover up a lack of content. Works everytime, til the audience finally sickens of it and demands change. Its on us.

  6. I wonder how many of the 120 were let go because of “the economy”? Did Koons have 150 working for him in 2007?

  7. JayDenver says:

    I’m not an artist, not a critic, nor even well schooled in art or art history. Now that you have my bona fides, let me pose some questions.

    Is it that Koons’ workshop is producing “lazy art”, that the assistants are not getting credit, or that Koons is using assistants at all?

    How does one differentiate between a factory employing hundreds and a workshop employing tens if the art is still of high quality?

    Aren’t there many works of art credited to the maestro (whoever it might be) that were probably largely produced by an assistant(s)?

    If Koons’ work were somehow more original and if the concept and supervision of execution largely done by Koons would that be better or not?

    Interesting post — lots here to consider. Thanks.

  8. So is he an artist or a product designer, seems more like a product designer now?

  9. Alot of artist have good sites. Koons site may have quirks. Check out Maya Lin’s. Koons could learn alot from viewing her’s. While he’s there he may even pick some knowledge about some real ideas.

  10. Who wants a whole whack of assistants anyways? For me, art is about the creating and the process. Sure I’d love someone to clean up after me, but not to actually do the work for me!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Look out Miranda, creating and process sounds dangerously close to “craft”! Yikes! ;)

  12. Art factory.

    Enough said.

  13. He is just boring.

  14. I think Mr. Koons is an example of how different a lot of contemporary/popular art is from what was once the case; you know, the solo artist struggling alone in some studio or another (or someplace not so comfortable) with her/his next vision. Nowadays, the complexity of certain endeavors makes the hiring of assistants (or fellow artists) essential, or at least requires the artist and her/his fan base to have patience.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] They’re nice, huh? Sure, it’s possible to go through them and find faults, but he is still a pre-teen boy! Did I mention that he has had 8 exhibitions and is struggling to keep up with the demand for his work online? He should think about hiring assistants [...]

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