Jeff Koons reveals he does NFTs, details plans for his exhibitions at the Pace Gallery, and remembers his hotel date with Salvador Dalí


Jeff Koons at the announcement of his BMW collaboration on September 4, 2021.
Photo: Enes Kucevic. © BMW SA

In a meaningful but unsurprising move, Jeff Koons plans to release NFT (non-fungible tokens), the world’s most expensive living artist revealed to The Journal of the Arts.

Koons was speaking at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich last weekend at the launch of his new art car collaboration with BMW, The 8 X Jeff Koons. The design of the Series 8 gran coupe will remain a mystery until its unveiling at Frieze Los Angeles 2022, though we’re told its coat will be made up of 11 colors, and U2 frontman Bono has initiated the collaboration between the artist and the German car manufacturer. via an editorial he wrote in the New York Times.

But while other details about the car remain under wraps, Koons has given some nuggets of choice regarding its next moves. Among these are concrete plans for his first trade shows in a gallery since leaving Gagosian and David Zwirner earlier this year for Pace, where he has two upcoming exhibitions: one in Palo Alto, Calif. In 2022 and another in New York in 2023.

Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels (2013-2019)
© Jeff Koons

“Depending on what will ultimately be shown at Palo Alto, it may be a piece that I have already created that is one of my Balloon Venuses. I think it’s gonna be the Hohlen Fels. If things stay on track, that’s what will be shown there, ”says Koons.

Voluptuous, shiny and apparently very difficult to produce, Koons’s Hohlen Fels The Venus have gained notoriety in recent years after the works in the series became the subject of two high-profile lawsuits against the artist and his then-Gagosian gallery.

Filmmaker Joel Silver filed a complaint in 2018 after having to wait “unreasonable” time for a 2013-15 yellow Hohlen Fels which he agreed to buy for $ 8 million before its completion, paying for the work in installments of $ 800,000. A settlement was reached in 2019 and Silver ultimately purchased all of the completed work.

A separate case was launched by the collector and administrator of the Museum of Modern Art Steven Tananbaum following the non-delivery of three Koons sculptures he had purchased: one Hohlen Fels in magenta and two others Ball sculptural. In 2019, Koons and Gagosian filed a motion to dismiss, calling Tananbaum an “impatient millionaire”. The lawsuit was settled “out of court” in January last year.

Three other editions of Hohlen Fels in red, purple, and orange are known to exist, but Koons didn’t say what color he planned to show Pace, choosing instead to talk about the more metaphysical properties of the work: you see it, and it tells you, and when you move, the abstraction changes. But at the same time, it takes you back to about 35,000 years ago, ”he says.

In New York, the artist will present new unpublished works of his Porcelain series, stainless steel sculptures whose surface closely resembles that of porcelain figurines. According to Koons, Pace’s works will draw on sources ranging from the “18th to 20th centuries”.

“I capture everything from the surface of the original. […] These are very transcendent pieces, I think I find a lot of Platonism in the works, ”he says.

Koons enters the NFT game

But perhaps the biggest news revealed over the course of the evening (yes, bigger than Bono) is that Koons has finally confirmed the rumors that began to circulate after his time at Pace – that he will be producing NFTs soon. The artist says he is developing digital works that will be offered as NFT and expects them to be released “within a year.”

Perhaps revealing, he talks about his long-standing partnership with London-based virtual and augmented reality art producers Acute, with whom he created a virtual reality. Ballerina work in 2018, suggesting that the artist, who was recently described by her former dealer David Zwirner at New York Times as a “free agent”, could publish these digital works outside of Pace. The gallery declined to comment.

While Koons is best known for creating physical works, he says his foray into NFTs won’t mark a major change in the way he already creates art. “All of my work has been digitally generated for almost two decades,” he says, adding, “Every job I do is really from the inside out, starting with cat scans and light scans first. blue, then reverse engineered and using photogrammetry to capture surfaces. ”

Koons has previously discussed how computer technology has helped him streamline his operations and reduce the size of his business.

Eager to discuss subjects outside of work as well, Koons then recalled the time he had met Salvador Dalí in a hotel as a teenager: “When I was 19 years old, [Salvador Dalí] had an exhibition in 1974 at the Knoedler Gallery and my mom read somewhere that he spent half the year in New York at the St. Regis hotel, so I called the hotel and asked him “Can I be put in communication with Salvador Dalí’s room”. He answered the phone, so I spoke to him and he said, ‘Can you come to New York this weekend and if you can I can meet you in the lobby at noon’, and there he was. . ”

Returning to the subject of cars, Koons says his is much less aerodynamic than a large coupe. Instead, the artist drives a custom 11-person van to accommodate his eight children, meaning it would take several 8X Jeff Koons to accommodate the artist’s sizable offspring.

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