EYE CANDY

Is Jeff Koons Our Marcel Duchamp?

Photo: Erika Ede © FMGB, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2015. © Jeff Koons

Two weeks ago, Jeff Koons‘s 1986 stainless steel sculpture of an inflatable rabbit sold at Christie’s for $91.1 million, making it the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold at auction. The outrage, as it so often is with Koons, was swift—and yet, this time, it was followed by some notable defenses. By the next day, the New York Times had published a riposte by Roberta Smith headlined “Stop Hating Jeff Koons,” and, two days after that, the Museo Jumex in Mexico City brought the sentiments of her argument into exhibit by partnering Koons with one of modernism’s masters, Marcel Duchamp, in “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even.” Curated by Massimiliono Gioni, the show makes the case that—no matter one’s thoughts on the polarizing 64-year-old artist—Koons is in some ways our Duchamp. Both artists point out our fascination with shiny objects and obsession with commodity—the difference being, of course, that what Duchamp does with a trolling wink (let me display this readymade urinal and call it a fountain), Koons does with such sincerity that it borders on kitsch. And as for the question that that is asked of both artists a century apart: Is it good art? Well, that’s up to viewers to decide.

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Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986. Featured in the exhibition “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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© Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP / SOMAAP / México / 2019

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917. Featured in “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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Photo: Laurent Lecat. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Moon (Light Blue), 1995-2000. Featured in the exhibition “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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© Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP / SOMAAP / México / 2019

Marcel Duchamp, Roue de Bicyclette, 1913. Featured in “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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Photo: Tom Powel Imaging. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994-2004. Featured in the exhibition “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studios, Los Angeles. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, The New Jeff Koons, 1980. Featured in the exhibition “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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© Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP / SOMAAP / México / 2019

Marcel Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp with Turkish Coin Necklace on Forehead, Hollywood, 1949. Featured in “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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© Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, New Hoover Convertibles, New Shelton Wet/Drys 5 Gallon, Doubledecker, 1981-1987. Featured in the exhibition “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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© Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP / SOMAAP / México / 2019

Marcel Duchamp, In Advance of the Broken Arm, 1915. Featured in “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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Photo: David Heald, Ellen Labenski. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Grotto, 2000. Featured in the exhibition “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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© Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP / SOMAAP / México / 2019

Marcel Duchamp (in collaboration with Man Ray), Belle Haleine, Eau de Voilette, 1921. Featured in “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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Photo: Erika Ede © FMGB, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2015. © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog (Magenta), 1994-2000. Featured in the exhibition “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.

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© Marcel Duchamp / ADAGP / SOMAAP / México / 2019

Marcel Duchamp, Le Porte-bouteilles, 1914. Featured in “Appearance Stripped Bare: Desire and the Object in the Work of Marcel Duchamp and Jeff Koons, Even,” on view at Museo Jumex in Mexico City through September 29, 2019.