I recently went to the Jeff Koons sculpture exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It was a bit of a coup to get such a prominent artist to give a show there. Koons is famous for being very kitsch, and also famous for very high prices, and I wasn’t sure if I would like the art on show or not. The critics seem divided about the quality and relevance of his work.
Photography was permitted, so it was out with my trusty mobile phone. One of the exhibits is a large steel ballerina that is lacquered with transparent colour. I loved the reflections and distortions in the highly polished surface. There’s a bit of Dali in the “melting” reflection of the painting on the wall. I was chastised by the attendant for getting too close*. I apologised and moved away.
I was also chastised by another attendant for getting too close* to this Spalding-branded basketball floating in a state of equilibrium. The ball is filled with distilled water and hovers in a salt water/fresh water gradient. It was loaned by its American owner. I’m guessing that it had to be sent empty and refilled in Oxford, so what arrived was a tank, a stand and the ball. Seems like not much for £17 million dollars!
The works were lit with quite directional spotlights, and I found the interplay of shadows a bit more interesting than some of the works. This is the shadow cast by a “balloon rabbit” made of steel. The white line is the one you must not cross. The floorboards made for a strong diagonal.
After the Jeff Koons show I met my wife and we went for a meal. The restaurant had the most extraordinary wallpaper in the loos, and the way it wrapped round corners gave a strange perspective to the faces. It distorted reality in a similar way to the Jeff Koons show. Accidental art?
* I have heard it said that, “It is easier to gain forgiveness than permission.”