PEOPLE

Jeff Koons: Man of the Hour


Jeff Koons Portrait
Photographed: Jason Schmidt

Is there a working American artist with a bigger cultural footprint than Jeff Koons? On the eve of his massive retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York—the final exhibition in the museum’s uptown home—the artist fills us in on what makes him tick.

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Photographed: Jason Schmidt

Jeff Koons in his former SoHo Studio.

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Alte Pinakothek

“This museum in Munich, Germany, has some of the greatest European and Northern European art, including works by Nicolas Poussin, François Boucher, Peter Paul Rubens, Raphael Sanzio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer. My family and I try to spend every New Year’s Day with the collection.”

Photograph by Franziska Hasse/courtesy of Alte Pinakothek.

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Led Zeppelin “This band taught me how to feel. It was while listening to their music that I started to get connections to the outside world.”

Courtesy of Everett Collection.

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Stone Fence Acres “I grew up in York County, Pennsylvania, where my grandfather had a weekend farm. About a decade ago we brought the farm back into our family. We spend most weekends there. We love having the opportunity to show our children a different way of life than what they experience in New York, to expose them to an environment where they have a lot more freedom to engage physically with the world.”

Courtesy of Jeff Koons.

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Gazing Balls “When looking at a gazing ball, one of those reflective balls that people have in their yards, you experience transcendence; the ball becomes everything. It symbolizes affirmation, generosity, sense of place, and the joy of the senses.”

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Pablo Picasso in 1969 “In 1969, Picasso was 88 years old—and he made some of the most dynamic work ever created. He was able to make things within a minimal vocabulary that have such a great vastness. He exercised his freedom, experiencing enlightenment that seems unparalleled in contemporary times.”

© 2014 estate of pablo picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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Paris “I love the city and its history, and French culture in general.”

Courtesy of Tibor Bognar/Getty Images.

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Everything “I like to look at everything. I find meaning and acceptance in everything. Everything that is here in the world is perfect, and is meant to be used and adapted.”

© CVI Textures/Alamy.

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Hefeweizen “I’ve always loved Hefeweizen beer. Through its taste and aroma I feel a link to nature and fertility.”

Courtesy of Jonelle Weaver/Getty Images.

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My Wife and Family “The most important thing to me is my family. They give me a sense of profound connection.”

Courtesy of David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com.