KOONS, Jeff (1955 - )
Balloon rabbit (red); balloon swan (yellow); balloon monkey (blue)
Limoges : Bernardaud, 2017. Edition of 999 copies. Three porcelain multiples, measurements: 241 x 164 x 210 mm (swan); 249 x 209 x 392 mm (monkey); 292 x 139 x 210 mm (rabbit), each with stamped signature, title, date and numbering on the underside, with the Bernardaud blindstamp, in original, as new condition, with the original boxes and documentation as issued.
A complete set of Jeff Koons’ exquisite balloon animals in the original primary colours. Originally sold as individual pieces, this is a complete ‘set’ of the three standalone sculptures, in their original primary contrasting colours of red, yellow and blue, acquired directly from Bernardaud.
A description of Koons’ ceramic balloon animals is provided by the artist and his publisher, Bernardaud.
The rabbit : ‘Inspired by a twisted rubber balloon rabbit, Koons’s Balloon Rabbit (Red) is a highly reflective red porcelain limited edition. The original Balloon Rabbit, 2005–2010, a three ton sculpture, standing over four meters high was made from mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating in five unique versions: blue, magenta, violet, red and yellow.
Why a rabbit? Koons replied: “It comes from my upbringing, I grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, in a rural community, and at special times of the year, people would put things out in their front yard for decoration like reindeer at Christmas time. In the spring, around Easter time, there would be inflatable rabbits. I was always very struck by the generosity of the neighbours in doing that, giving pleasure to other people in that way. One of the things that I’m most proud of is making work that lets viewers not feel intimidated by art, but feel that they can emotionally participate in it through their senses and their intellect and be fully engaged”. The rabbit is featured prominently in Koons’s oeuvre, first appearing in his 1979 work Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny) and then in his stainless steel Rabbit, 1986, which marked the first time Koons’s portrayed the subject matter with a highly reflective surface. Through Koons’s mirror-like surfaces the viewer becomes an essential part of the artwork and undergoes an affirmation of self.’
The swan : Jeff Koons transforms a simple twisted balloon swan into a reflective yellow porcelain for his limited edition, Balloon Swan (Yellow). The original Balloon Swan, 2004–2011, is a monumental sculpture, standing over 3 meters high, in mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating in five unique versions: magenta, red, violet, blue, and yellow.
The figure of the swan has significant personal resonance for the artist; it was one of the first sculptures Koons made at 9 years old in ceramic, for which the young artist diligently worked on to get the angle of the neck correct. For Balloon Swan, he worked for over a year and a half shaping its graceful neck.
Through research, modeling, milling, polishing, and lacquering, the swan was elevated to its final monumental form. His perseverance resulted in a work that alludes to the playfulness of childhood while its simplified, reflective surface also communicates desire and acceptance.
Koons had an epiphany when he first saw the swan’s two-dimensional form on the computer: “Balloon Swan harmonizes sexual energy. If you look at it from the front, it’s totem-like and male. If you go to the side it becomes female. Balloon Swan is reminiscent of classical works, it defines beauty as sexual harmony.”
The monkey : Balloon Monkey (Blue) by Koons, is based on a balloon that is twisted into the shape of a monkey. Seven years in the making, the original Balloon Monkey, 2006–2013, is 12 ½ feet long and weighs nearly five tons. The monumental sculpture is made from mirror-polished stainless steel finished with transparent color coating in five unique versions: blue, magenta, orange, red and yellow.
Jeff Koons has been interested in cultural subject matter with widespread appeal throughout his career. It is, therefore, fitting that the monkey has been a recurring motif in his body of work. Among the artist’s work, his most well-known is the life-sized porcelain artwork created in 1988, Michael Jackson and Bubbles. Humankind’s close kinship with primates has captured artist’s fascination throughout history, serving as an allegorical figure for universal themes such as the pursuit of pleasure, sexuality and innocence. Balloon Monkey explores these themes, evident through the playful form juxtaposed with tumescent tail, undoubtedly a phallic reference. Koons merges these typically contradictory concepts through the reduction of the subject to its most essential form, thereby purifying otherwise conflicting sensations for the viewer to achieve the elevated state of transcendence through self-acceptance.
(source : https://www.bernardaud.com/en/us/balloon-animals-by-jeff-koons)
Jeff Koons holds the world record for the highest price sold at auction by a living artist, with his 1986 reflective sculpture Rabbit selling at Christie’s New York in 2019 for USD $91.1 million.
The auction record for another example of this set of three balloon animals at auction is USD $81,250 (Sotheby’s New York, Contemporary Art, 17 May 2018, lot 549).
Other notable recent sales:
- USD $75,000 (Christie’s online, Contemporary Edition, 17 July 2018, lot 182)
- GBP £50,000 (Phillips London, Evening & Day Editions, 12 September 2019, lot 42)
- GBP £43,750 (Sotheby’s London, Contemporary Art, 27 June 2019, lot 305)
- GBP £42,500 (Sotheby’s London, Contemporary Art, 27 June 2018, lot 284).
- USD $62,500 (Sotheby’s New York, Contemporary Curated, 2 March 2018, lot 311)
- EUR €52,500 (Ketterer Kunst, Munich, Limited Editions, 6 December 2019, lot 45)
This exquisite set of porcelain miniature versions of Koons’ monumental creations, crafted by premier porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud under the supervision of the artist, is a representation of the artist’s vision of minimalist perfection.
Bernardaud, New York City, acquired 2018 and 2019
Private collection, Melbourne