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In 1988 when Koons had his Banality show at the Sonnabend gallery, Ileana asked him whether he would like an exhibition catalogue or advertisements within magazines; letting people know about the exhibition. Koons opted for the ads. Around that time period and while looking at the Artforum magazine he found a photo of David Bowie, photographed by Greg Gorman, in Los Angeles. Koons contacted Gorman with the purpose of photographing him, each picture for each magazine, to bring out the intentions of the Banality show.
A magazine that was conservative in the eyes of Koons. A magazine that he felt that they would not be supportive of his work. With that in mind Koons designed an ad where he is in a classroom with children and he is educating kindergarteners, very young children, "children really too vulnerable for such an indoctrination into my art" said Koon.
The artist is going around the magazine, going around the critics, going directly to the youth of tomorrow, and he is educating them on Banality. On the backboard positioned on the back, it says "BANALITY AS SAVIOUR". Koons is there teaching the children the attributes of Banality.
"I really wanted to direct that sense of their vulnerability to the Artforum readership, the people who hate me, to make them just grit their teeth and hate me even more because I was taking away their future. I was getting at their future, the youth of tomorrow." —Jeff Koons
Flash Art 1988-89:
"I was there with two pigs - a big one and a little one - so it was like breeding banality. I wanted to debate myself and call myself a pig before the viewer had a chance to, so that they could only think more of me." —Jeff Koons
Arts Magazine 1988-89:
At the time, a magazine for young artists, just starting to show their work. Koons presented himself as Napoleon, behind him carefully selected to show, a cabana - almost from a battlefield, but this one was a pool cabana. The artist was sitting in a robe, that has the letter N as a monogram stitched to his left side (where his heart is). On both sides, two live seals are guarding him. For Koons this image has the essence of baptism. The artist felt the leadership and was ready to rule the art world.
Art in America 1988-89:
"A kind of populist magazine - I presented myself like Christ, having the temptations. I am sitting on a miniature pony, and it just happened right at that moment to bay, and it's mouth is open. There is a young woman in a bikini offering me a cake, and another woman is laying there and holding the head of the pony. There are all these flowers. I know there are a lot of things that can be offered to me, but I am interested in the power of art." —Jeff Koons
And with this in mind, we (Weng Contemporary) proceeded with a storytelling editorial of Koons's latest edition, the Diamond (Red).
Diamond (Red), 2020
French Limoges porcelain with chromatic coating
Edition of 599
height: 32,4 cm (12.7 in) diameter: 39,2 cm (15.4 in.)
Signed and numbered
In mint condition
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In Paper Kite Butterfly on Oleander, Hirst features his signature motif – the butterfly – alive in its natural surroundings, hanging from a beautiful, strikingly coloured blossom. In this, he has created an uplifting and celestial image that inspires childlike wonder in the face of such a beauty of nature. At the same time, however, it provokes fundamental questions about the meaning of life, a life which is characterized by death, and the fragility of biological existence.
“I love butterflies because when they are dead they look alive."—Damien Hirst
There is no imminent promise of salvation, no escape offered in these works. Those black pills, as in Dark Black Heaven, are as threatening as they are strangely attractive, a dark fatal allure which we already know leads to one ultimate destiny.
Hirst’s work questions the equivocal role of medicine. It can either take life and save life or destroy and restore. These pills are not a memento mori like the skulls or the butterflies. They are a symbol of resignation and alienation from life, and a fatal attraction towards death.
"It’s like God should be, the way they sell you the pills, the forms, the utopia, the hope, the cure. We’ve come a long way since quack doctors."—Damien Hirst
The pharmaceutical cabinets, as in Hirst’s work Utopia, question people´s complete reliance on medications and their power to heal, which fulfill the natural desire for immortality. However, the question is: Can drugs cure this problem, or can art?
On the other hand, Gold tears, which is part of the Utopia series, depicts rows of shiny diamonds on shelves covered with golden foil in front of a golden-beige background. The image is an intense vision of a golden cabinet filled with diamonds, a vision often associated with glorious eternity. But as always in Hirst’s art, the ambiguity is obvious – this cabinet points to the fact that behind all the shiny glittery surfaces there might be nothing, no meaning, and no soul. And hence the desire for eternity is less a promise than a condemnation.
"I can’t understand why most people believe in medicine and don’t believe in art, without questioning either."—Damien Hirst