Jeff Koons has made a habit of treating art historical referents in his work – and also of dealing with pornography, most famously with his suite of photographs “Made in Heaven” (1990–1991). One image from that series, “Jeff in the Position of Adam”, takes up the famous posture of Michelangelo’s Adam from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and alters it slightly, adding Koons’s then-wife Ilona Staller (Cicciolina) lying on her back in front of him. A recent series by the artist entitled “Antiquity” continues this practice by picking up even older points of reference. “Balloon Venus”, a towering stainless steel sculpture with transparent color coating, submits the figure of the “Venus of Willendorf” to styling as a balloon animal – one of Koons’s most iconic forms. Three other works in the new series, photorealistic oil paintings, appear as if images have been digitally superimposed over one another. One of these layers depicts a crude, Picasso-esque drawing (think of Picasso’s “Don Quixote”, 1955) of a sailboat flanked on both sides by rock formations, the sun high in the sky. At a second glance – and especially when seen by itself, as is the case with this edition for “Texte zur Kunst” – the drawing clearly also represents a woman’s legs spread open to show her genitals. Finished with red metallic foil, the motive sheds the same radiance as the giant fertility goddess. Not only is Koons’s image strikingly similar to the composition of Gustave Courbet’s “L’Origine du monde”, it embodies the “glissement” (“slippage”) conceived of by that painting’s one-time owner Jacques Lacan; as the drawing slips back and forth from one image to another, more than a woman’s sex is revealed.
Lithograph with silkscreen, 34.8 × 45.7 cm, Edition: 100 + 20 A.P. + 10 P.P..