Jeff Koons: A Retrospective
Audio Guide Playlist

This audio guide features commentary by artist Jeff Koons, Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney's Nancy and Steve Crown Family Curator and Associate Director of Programs, Michelle Kuo, editor of Artforum magazine, and Amy Adler, the Emily Kempin Professor at New York University Law School.

NARRATOR: In these two works—Seal Walrus (Chairs) and Seal Walrus (Trashcans)—Koons recreates vinyl pool toys in painted aluminum. 

SCOTT ROTHKOPF: Each of these pool toys is rendered so perfectly that you might not know that they weren't the real thing, if it weren't for the fact that they were impaled on a set of trash cans or stacked plastic chairs. One of the ways that Koons achieves this perfect replication is through the very subtle variation of how these sculptures are painted. He varies the shiny plastic of some of their handles, and the places that you blow into, with a slightly more matte surface, where you almost get the feeling of something being printed on the vinyl.

What's interesting to me, in the case of these two sculptures, is that Koons is juxtaposing a perfect replica of a readymade, that he creates, the inflatable toys, with actual readymades that he buys. This juxtaposition between a found object and a perfect copy of a found object really gets at the essence of what is the role and the function of art, in a way? What is the difference between the work of an artist, and the work of industry? What is the role of the artist in copying reality? 

Of course, another sight gag, in a way, that's at play here is the fact that these inflatable objects are maintaining their inflatedness despite being pierced by these objects which would, of course, let the air out of them. This adds to the sense of magic that they have, adds to the artifice that Koons is playing with. 

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