Jeff Koons, the Google of the Art World, Teams Up with Google

What happens when the world’s most successful artist and the world’s most valuable company get together? Apparently, a $40 phone case.

Jeff Koons Portrait
Photographed: Jason Schmidt

Jeff Koons has never been one to shy away from the masses, and last night he debuted maybe his most mass piece of work yet: a phone case, in collaboration with Google. At $40 a pop, it’s also probably his most affordable to date.

Google’s “live cases,” as they’re called, work in conjunction with the tech giant’s Nexus cell phones. They’ve tapped Skrillex to design them before, but Koons marks the first collaboration with a visual artist. With three different exterior designs from the artist’s Gazing Ball series (Bust, Diana, and Mailbox), the live cases also activate short video clips as the phone’s background.

There are enough clips of the New York City Ballet dancers Troy Schumacher and Ashley Laracey performing movements of a Swan Lake-inspired dance to wake up to a different one each day for over a month. Koons was interested in, he said, “the combination of the biological and the cultural. That’s the reason I chose [ballet], this aspect of bringing passion, biology, grace, and the body together.”

To tout the project, he sent his gazing balls to various celebrities and fashion types, including Lady Gaga, Marc Jacobs, Pharrell and Arianna Huffington, for them to pose for Instagram shots with (and, of course, to tag with #KoonsxGoogle).

“I wanted to use the gazing ball, [because] it represents something so accessible, and at the same time it represents everything,” he said. This is not unlike a search engine.

While many people, including Victor Cruz, Leigh Lezark, and Selita Ebanks, were also taking Instagrams at the launch event last night at Spring Place, the new membership club inside Spring Studios, Koons doesn’t rely too heavily on social media or technology.

“I think that a lot of young artists can make a mistake and [think], ‘If I just work with the newest technology, my work will be new and fresh,'” he said. “But art is something that actually comes from a very profound universal realm within people. You can get there very quickly by just focusing on your interests. And if you just focus on your interests, than you connect to the universal really quickly. Technology’s only a tool.”

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Photos: Jeff Koons, the Google of the Art World, Teams Up with Google

Jeff Koons. Photo by BFA.

Jeff Koons x Google: The launch of the limited-edition Jeff Koons Live Case. Photo by BFA.

Selita Ebanks. Photo by BFA.

Victor Cruz and Jeff Koons. Photo by BFA.

New York City Ballet dancer Ashley Laracey. Photo by BFA.

New York City Ballet dancers Troy Schumacher and Ashley Laracey. Photo by BFA.

Adam Selman and Hari Nef. Photo by BFA.

Leigh Lezark. Photo by BFA.

Misha Nonoo and Francesca Amfitheatrof. Photo by BFA.

Maria Baibakova, Lauren Remington Platt, Laura De Gunzburg, Indre Rockefeller. Photo by BFA.