‘Jeff Koons: Gazing Ball’ at David Zwirner
Photo: Juliana Balestin / Purple Diary.
Jeff Koons juxtaposes the abstract with the representative by adorning several sculptures referencing Roman aesthetics and modern-day objects with a perfectly geometric sphere. In a revival of classical form, Koons draws on his foremost medium, sculpture, to capture the attention of the contemporary art world. A visit to his show at the David Zwirner Gallery produces stimulating perceptions of Art History as Koons sees it.
All but a few of the stark white sculptures seem plucked straight from the Greek and Roman wing of the Metropolitan: Goliath, Hercules, a satyr… Of course, Koons throws in a snowman or mailbox to remind us that this is contemporary art. To break up the endless sea of white, each sculpture features a mystical blue sphere resting somewhere upon it, whether magically mid-thigh or teetering on the back of a shoulder. The ball perhaps represents the future of art, its stance defying gravity as the future of art may defy its past. On its reflective surface, we see the projected gallery contents behind us, hence the title Gazing Ball. In a way, looking at Koons’ blue spheres is like seeing ourselves through a fisheye lens, though perhaps it’s more like the Waldo filter on Instagram.
Koons may be taking inspiration from the Romans for his classical sculpture, but it was the Romans who originally stole the classical style of sculpture from the Greeks. Is Koons mocking the past? Maybe; his quotidian snowmen and mailboxes would suggest so. Despite the wide gap in time periods, the show is much more cohesive than its counterpart five blocks north at Gagosian, a three-room show with an eclectic mix of painting, blow-up toys and sculpture.
As the title suggests, Gazing Ball is a show featuring a mystical blue ball awkwardly gazing at its surroundings and touching revered forms of Art History. It is through this ball which Koons sees his art, as a reflection of the present world around him. He invites visitors to take a personal look at the art, and many of them walk right up to the ball and stare into its depth. In a way, the visitors complete the artworks, defining their existence.