Family Values: Jeff Koons
Today there are as many meanings of the word “family” as there are families. Welcome to the new normal.
“I didn’t experience great works of art when I was younger,” says onetime enfant terrible Jeff Koons, recalling that his primer in aesthetics came from his father, who owned a furniture shop in York, Pennsylvania. The artist’s own kids, however, live in a mini Metropolitan Museum: The walls of their Upper East Side town house are chockablock with works by Courbet, Poussin, and Picasso, among others. “Hey, Blakey!” Koons called out to his four-year-old on a recent morning. “Who’s your favorite artist?” “Massys,” came the hesitant reply. “He really does love Massys,” a Flemish Old Master, explains Koons, “but sometimes the kids get shy. They don’t know whether to say their dad, or whatever.” The brood also includes the artist’s daughter Shannon, 35, whom he didn’t meet until 1995 (she was put up for adoption by her mother, a college student at the time), and his son Ludwig, 18, with whom Koons reunited in 2009 following a five-year break imposed by his ex-wife, Italian porn star and politician Ilona Staller. Chez Koons, the “Art Game” is a favorite bedtime ritual. “My dad will say, ‘Find the Picasso or Dalí,’” says Sean, nine, “and the person who finds them all first gets to stay up five minutes later.”