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Jeff Koons @ Americans for the Arts

"I made all these works myself." - Jeff Koons

2018 David Rockefeller Lecture featuring artist

Jeff Koons

NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) Auditorium
Hosted by Americans for the Arts

June 5, 2018

We're raised to think "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

But sometimes that's total hogwash.

Sometimes it's useful to say critical things because it challenges people to use their brains. To think. Complicity in refusing to say something could be misconstrued as acceptance. Just because something isn't "nice," doesn't mean it's not constructive.

I have very few nice things to say about Jeff Koons.

He's one of those artists who's convinced the entire contemporary art world to lick his feet and bask in readymade glory that claims to reach for the American Dream (at least one made of plastic toys you can buy from Walmart). He introduced fans to a prefabricated wasteland of smiling bunnies and blow-up circus balloon animals that made him wealthier than God, and those of us raising an eyebrow along the way couldn't stop the hurtling rocket ship of soaring prices.

When I saw him speak, I expected at least some acknowledgement that he's conned the system. Of course I didn't think he'd admit it outright - that would damage the veneer of "genius" he's so generously bequeathed upon himself - but I thought he'd look conspiratorially at the audience and let them in on the secret.

How wrong I was.

In an hour-long talk, Koons routinely compared himself to Leonardo and Raphael and plied us with every cliche art term: "I used wood for the power of transcencence," "I wanted to participate in the dialogue of the readymade," "there's never any art in an object," and "my Banality show was the biggest in NYC since Lichtenstein."

Calm down, Mr. Koons.

Of course, I want to write an excoriating exposée of Koons' inane façade, but we've wasted enough time and breath on him already. He certainly puts the 'artist' in 'con artist,' and I don't have anything nice to say at all.

Image courtesy Americans for the Arts website

Ticket price: $35

My price: $35

Yeah, I wanted to see this talk enough to pay full price. Not sure it was worth it (other than meeting Laurent Gaveau from Google, which left me relatively starstruck).

By the way, if you want to learn more about good ole' Jeff, you can check out the Jeff Koons page on Art.sy. The page provides you with Koons's bio, over 500 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Koons exhibition listings. It's also kind of like Pandora, since it gives you suggestions for related artists and categories. Pretty neat, huh?

David Rockefeller Lecture Series
Featuring Jeff Koons
June 5th
NYIT Auditorium NYC

Welcome from Robert L. Lynch (President and CEO, Americans for the Arts)

Performance by Yancy Garcia (YoungArts Award Winner in Popular Voice)

Laurent Gaveau (Head of Google Arts & Culture Lab)

Remarks by Julie Muraco (Founding and Managing Partner, Praeditis Group LLC; Chair of the Board of Directors, Americans for the Arts)

Closing Remarks from Edgar L. Smith, Jr. (Chairman and CEO, World Pac Paper, LLC; Board Member, Americans for the Arts; Executive Board Chairman, Business Committee for the Arts)

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