Headline February 17, 2017/ ''' THIS UNKNOWN STUDENT '''


WHEN JEFF KOONS was in his second year of art school in 1973, his mother read in a magazine that one of his favourite artists-

Salvador Dali, was living in the St Regis Hotel in New York. ''So I called the hotel and asked to speak to Salvador Dali, and they put me through,'' says Koon.

''I told him that I was a fan and would really enjoy the opportunity to meet him, and he told me, ''OK, come to New York this Saturday and I'll meet you in the lobby at 12 o'clock.

''So I went to the hotel at exactly 12 o'clock he showed up in the lobby wearing this buffalo fur cape and a diamond tie clip, carrying a silver cane,'' Koon continues. ''Dali invited me to meet him later at an exhibition of his work. He asked me if I liked the work and did I want some photographs, and I said, 'Sure.'

So he posed of a painting, I was, of course, very very nervous, and he said,''Come on kid  -I can't hold this pose all day.' 

He'd already had to correct his moustache a few times. He was so generous to me, and I left that evening thinking, 'I can do this. I can be an artist, and wake up in the morning, and think about work, and be part of the avant garde.'''

The story tells quiet a lot about the young Koons. It suggests that he was optimistic enough to think that a famous artist in his late sixties might be persuaded to meet an  unknown student, and he had the charm, determination and chutzpah to pull it off.

The encounter also reveals that, even then, Koons had a singular vision of art. 

By the  Mid-Seventies, Dali once revered his technical virtuosity and experiments with surrealism, was a deeply unfashionable artist, who was derided for courting money and fame by staging seedy publicity stunts. Yet Koons choose to think the best of him.

Looking back, he could have seen Dali's decline as a cautionary tale of an artist whose propensity for scandal and showmanship destroyed his critical reputation and overwhelmed his work.

Koons, now 61, has been taunted by the vary same very threat throughout his 40-year career as one of the world's  most famous, expensive, feted and talked-about- artists, and the pre-eminent US artist of our time.

Koons is one the very few artists whose name is familiar to people who seldom, if ever go to museums. 

He is equally rare in having produced a number of artworks that they may recognise, such as his giant, joyous Puppy flower sculpture and stainless steel  Balloon Dog, the latter of which holds the record for a piece by a living artist, having sold for $58.4 million at Christie's in 2013.     

Yet, despite his success, Koons is  Loved and Loathed  with equal fervour by his critics and curators who make and break artists reputations. And their judgments are generally determined by whether or not they believe his art has been fatally tarnished by sensationalism, as Dali's supposedly was.

To his champions, who, luckily for Koons, include several of the world's richest and most profligate contemporary art collections, his paintings and sculptures of erotica, toy, kitsch, hyper-luxury and pop culture address the pervasive issues of out time with aesthetic and technical aplomb.

''Koons is a great boundary breaker in so many areas of contemporary art and society, whether it comes to pushing the relationship between art and popular culture, or his interest in sexuality, or his use of new technologies and fabricated processes,'' observes Scott Rothkopf, chief curator of New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, who curated  the 2014 retrospective of Koons' work there.

''Few artists are such trailblazers in one area and yet Koons has pioneered so many, always challenging himself and us.''

Koons detractors see those same obsessions as pandering to the basest urges of a neurotically materialistic, hype-consumerist and sexually exploitative age, and as flagrant exercise in self-enrichment. 

They also accuse him of pomposity for mixing them with references to art history and classical antiquity.

One of his most eloquent haters was the Robert Hughes, the influential art critic of Time magazine, who described Koons as having   ''the slimy self-assurance, the gross patter about transcendence through art, of a blow-dried Baptist selling swamp acres in Florida,'' before admitting, you can't imagine America's slightly depraved culture without him.''

Sitting inside the huge New York studio complex by the Hudson river in Chelsea, where he and his staff of 180 work, Koons appears too placable to be the target of such ire.

Clad in a navy shirt and trousers with slightly scuffed, [or so he complains] black Nike trainers, he looks almost anodyne until he slashes his goofy grin that his become his trademark, just as Dali's spindly moustache and Andy Warhol's spiky wigs were.

His face is lightly wrinkled, as you'd expect of a sexagenarian, but Koons is trim, as he proved by posing naked while weight training for an Annie Leibovitz portrait that accompanied Vanity Fair's prelude to the Whitney Show.

He has worked out for years, usually listening to Led Zepplin, his favorite band since his teens.     

The Honour and Serving of the   latest ''Operational Research'  on  Life. Artists, Painters,and Students studying fine arts continues. Thank Ya all for reading and sharing forward. And see you on the following one.

With respectful dedication to all the Great Artists of the World, Students, Professors and Teachers. See Ya all  on !WOW! -the World Students Society and  Twitter-!E-WOW!   -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Notes '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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