Triple Elvis by Jeff Koons
7 min

The Wrecked Heaven of Modern Artist Jeff Koons and His Muse Cicciolina

7 min

Following Salvador Dali in terms of provocativeness and financial prosperity, Jeff Koons, the pioneer of appropriation, erases the line between art and banality. His vacuum cleaners may be seen as an homage to the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, while the most famous pieces - balloon animals made of steel - trick our perception in the manner of Wim Delvoye. Crossing the borders between art and other spheres, Koons also blends art and pornography. The result of this blending was shown in his Made in Heaven exposition, which consisted of pornographic shots and sculptures featuring himself and his wife, porn actress Cicciolina.

 Jeff Koons portrait photo

Fig. 1. Jeff Koons (

 The cover of Artpop made by Jeff Koons

Fig. 2. The cover of Artpop made by Koons, 2013 (

 Beach House, from the Popeye series by Jeff Koons

Fig. 3. Beach House, oil on canvas 102 x 138 inches, 2003, Popeye series (

 Hot Dog, Easyfan-Ethereal series by Jeff Koons

Fig. 4. Hot Dog, Easyfan-Ethereal series, oil on canvas, 108 x 84 inches, 2002 (

 Gazing Ball (Ariadne) by Jeff Koons

Fig. 5. Gazing Ball (Ariadne), plaster and glass, 44 3/8 x 93 7/8 x 36 5/8 inches, 2013 (

 Gazing Ball (Farnese Hercules) by Jeff Koons

Fig. 6. Gazing Ball (Farnese Hercules), plaster and glass, 128 1/2 x 67 x 48 5/8 inches, 2013 (

 Dolphin by Jeff Koons

Fig. 7. Dolphin, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 20 1/8 x 78 3/8 x 37 1/2 inches, 2007 (

  Caterpillar Ladder (Wall) by Jeff Koons

Fig. 8. Caterpillar Ladder (Wall), polychromed aluminum and aluminum, 93 3/8 x 41 7/16 x 43 15/16 inches, 2007-2011 (

 Acrobat by Jeff Koons

Fig. 9. Acrobat, polychromed aluminum, galvanized steel, wood, and straw, 90 1/8 x 58 1/4 x 25 1/2 inches, 2007-2011 (

  Triple Elvis by Jeff Koons

Fig. 10. Triple Elvis, oil on canvas, oil on canvas 108 x 93 inches, 2003 (

 Rabbit, Statuary series by Jeff Koons

Fig. 11. Rabbit, Statuary series, stainless steel, 41 x 19 x 12 inches (

 pink panther by Jeff Koons

Fig. 12. Pink Panther, Banality series, porcelain, 41 x 20 1/2 x 19 inches, 1988 (

 Woman in Tub, Banality by Jeff Koons

Fig. 13. Woman in Tub, Banality series, porcelain, 23 3/4 x 36 x 27 inches, 1988 (

Artist, Admirer, Broker

Jeffrey Lynn Koons (b. 1955) originates from a family of a furniture dealer and a seamstress. Gifted kid, Koons copied the old masters already at eight and signed copies with his name. Things wouldn't change years later as the artist would lose many lawsuits for copyright infringement. In the 1970s, he studied painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His main inspiration was Salvador Dali. As Koons recalls in his Instagram, at nineteen, he had a chance to meet the artist at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. At the meeting, young Koons was invited by Dali to his exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery, where the Spanish painter posed him for several photographs. When, three years later, Koons began working at the membership desk of the Museum of Modern Art, he dyed his hair red and wore a pencil mustache after Dali. Interestingly, in 1980, Koons became a Wall Street commodities broker at First Investors Corporation, as if being also inspired by the sarcastic anagram of Dali's name, Avida Dollars/I Want Money, invented by Andre Breton. His other artistic inspiration was Polish surrealist Ed Pashke, to whom he assisted in the late 1970s.

 Salvador Dali in front of his Royal Tiger painting

Fig. 14. I took several photos of Dali during our meeting, including this portrait where he posed after preparing himself by twirling his moustache upwards in front of his Royal Tiger painting. He was extremely generous, - Jeff Koons (

 Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny) by Jeff Koons

Fig. 15. Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), vinyl and mirrors, 32 x 25 x 19 inches, 1978 (

 New Hoover Quik Broom, New Hoover Celebrity IV by Jeff Koons

Fig. 16. New Hoover Quik Broom, New Hoover Celebrity IV, two vacuum cleaners, acrylic, and fluorescent lights, 56 x 22 x 19 1/4 inches, 1980 (

 Hennessy, The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law, Luxury and Degradation series by Jeff Koons

Fig. 17. Hennessy, The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law, Luxury and Degradation series, oil inks on canvas, 45 x 60 inches, 1986 (

 Buster Keaton, Banality series by Jeff Koons

Fig. 18. Buster Keaton, Banality series, polychromed wood, 65 3/4 x 50 x 26 1/2 inches, 1988 (

 Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Banality series by Jeff Koons

Fig. 19. Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Banality series, porcelain, 42 x 70 1/2 x 32 1/2 inches, 1988 (

Between Warhol and Wonka

His first series of works, consisting of inflatable figures and mirrors, Koons created as a student. In the 1980s, with the money earned at the stock market, he presented The New ready-made series, which consisted of several hoovers. Later works were devoted to pop culture and advertising. Having gained recognition, Koons set up a factory-like studio in a SoHo loft with over 30 assistants, similar to Andy Warhol's Factory. One of his iconic series, Banality, was created with the art fabrication method, implying the production of artworks beyond an individual artist's studio. To produce porcelain figurines of pop characters like Michael Jackson, Koons hired ceramic workshops in Germany and Italy..

Fig. 20. Jeff Koons and Ilona Staller, 1990s

Fig. 20. Jeff Koons and Ilona Staller, 1990s (

 Jeff Koons and Ilona Staller

Fig. 21.

Made in Heaven billboard, 1989 by Jeff Koons

Fig.22. Made in Heaven billboard, 1989

Made in Heaven by Jeff Koons

Fig.23. Made In Heaven (1989)

Jeff Koons . Made In Heaven (1989)

Fig.24. .Made In Heaven (1989)

Jeff Koons is active on Istagram

In the extended Premium edition we're going to explore the artistic relationship between Koons and his Italian muse Cicciolina that resulted in, among other things, the controversial Made In Heaven series. Furthermore, attention is paid to Cicciolina's adult film career, all interspersed with 70 daring photos.

 Click HERE for an article on Christina Lindberg, one of the beguiling star of 1970s exploitation movies