Kitschy Jeff Koons’ Whitney Exhibition Opens; H&M Teams Up

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Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, “Elephant,” 2003. Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating; 36 1⁄2 × 29 × 19 in.

New York—With kitsch leading the charge on many a fashion runway these days, it’s perfect that the Whitney is staging a huge retrospective for artist Jeff Koons (aka King of Kitsch). H&M has also gotten into action, creating a limited-edition handbag style celebrating the artist.

Opening today at the Whitney Museum of American Art, “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective” features 150 works from 1978 to today, including Koons’ most famous metalworks resembling giant balloon animals.

It is the Whitney’s largest exhibition ever devoted to a single artist (the show fills five of the six floors at the museum, turning the space into a psychedelic, POP playground of sorts).

Jeff Koons, "Loopy," 1999, Oil on canvas, 108 x 79 1⁄4 in.

Jeff Koons, “Loopy,” 1999, Oil on canvas, 108 x 79 1⁄4 in.

Koons famously plays with scale and subject matter, using an in-your-face approach and unusually crafted surfaces to attract attention and turn the expected on its head. From children’s toys rendered in oversized adult materials to paintings that look like giant collages of photos, the show is a riot of colors, shiny surfaces and disparate elements.

Highlights include glossy paintings of food and facial features, giant inflatable toys and even a basketball artfully suspended in liquid (apparently Koons worked with Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman to get the saline solution mix just right).

Jeff Koons X H&M leather handbag featuring Balloon Dog sculpture.

Jeff Koons X H&M leather handbag featuring Balloon Dog sculpture.

Meanwhile, “Play-Doh,” a humongous sculpture of patchy colors looks like it was made by a child from a race of giants.

Upon exiting the show, you won’t want to miss a trip to the gift shop, either, for items sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face–child or adult.

If you wait until July 17 for H&M’s museum-themed flagship store to open in Midtown, you can also purchase a limited-edition leather handbag, featuring Koons’ famous balloon dog. Retail? Just $49.50. A lot cheaper than the $50 million-plus original! The item will also be available at the Whitney on that date.

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, “Tulips,” 1995 – 98, Oil on canvas, 111 3⁄8 x 131 in.

“Jeff Koons: A Retrospective” is on view today through Oct. 19 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

It is the museum’s final show before decamping to a new location downtown to the Meatpacking District in 2015.