Sunday, July 20, 2008

Inflatable Art: Jeff Koons & Balloons


The irreverent and always spectacular Jeff Koons currently has a show up on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum. Radiant in the glaring sunlight, his monumental works that would be most at home next to an aqua Hockney-esque California swimming pool, are at once a dichotomy of opposites: familiar and unfamiliar, original and unoriginal, conceivable and inconceivable. I've always been specifically attracted to the Pop-Art-whimsy of his inflatables and balloon sculptures, because in these works he has succeeded in transforming the temporary object into a permanent icon of mass culture, while still retaining a sense of the object's ephemeral nature. Subsequently, when I stumbled upon the multi-colored large-scale balloon sculptures created by the blow-up artists at Tribeca outpost Balloon Saloon, I immediately thought of the work of Koons. The Balloon Saloon's unique helium bouquets and decorations, many of which feature a colorful cast of television characters and superheroes, are awe-inspiringly creative, fun, and surprising. However, their appeal and value also lies in the knowledge that they will eventually deflate, making them a special (albeit fleeting) emblem of a cause for celebration.

photo credit bunny: Jeff Koons, Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), vinyl and mirrors, 1979. (http://www.jeffkoons.com)
photo credit dog: Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog (Yellow), High chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating, 1994-2000. (http://www.metmuseum.org)
photo credit balloon "Animation" bouquet: http://www.balloonsaloon.com/birthdays.html
photo credit balloon "Ice Cream" column: http://www.balloonsallon.com/columns.html

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