Jeff Koons’ Louis Vuitton suitcases: a rapturous artwork history lesson

In championing the likes of Fragonard, Rubens and Titian, Jeff Koons line of Louis Vuitton supplements fetches high art to the high-pitched street and proves off his sincere ardour for painting

High art needs all the friends it can get. Museum attendance is ceasing all parts of the world, and earnest attempts to court young persons and identify with the brand-new are clearly not working. Something more persuasive is needed: unequivocal passion for great prowes in different languages parties in the 21 st century understand.

How about a Louis Vuitton handbag with RUBENS written on it in large-scale gold words over a reproduction of that 17 th-century painters murderous, exuberant and stunning job Tiger, Lion and the Leopard Hunt?

I cant think of a simpler way to make great prowes at the vanguard of modern judgments. This is not a cynical activity. The hunt painting is not a pop icon yet but a serious cover beloved by artwork connoisseurs. Jeff Koons, for instance.

Rubens is only one of the largest painters Koons has chosen to celebrate in a line of bags for Vuitton. Koons, a notorious appropriation creator, is infamous for changing kitsch epitomes and objectives into art, but for his reach of handbags, rucksacks and other expensive supplements he is turning great skill back into favourite culture. Just as Andy Warhol established Warholised different versions of Renaissance prowes, Koons has returned the old masters into mode must-haves( if you are able render them costs wander up to $4,000 ).

Frills, foliage and flesh Jean-Honor Fragonards work adorns a Vuitton bag designed by Jeff Koons. Photo: Louis Vuitton

For from scratching Rubens in the grime and reducing the exalted to the worthless, these luxury objects look to me like heartfelt homages to great prowes. Koons clearly has an erudite and enthusiastic love of oil painting, for while his pouches touting the Mona Lisa and Van Goghs Wheat Field With Cypresses may be easy on our mentalities, he is also bravely educating us by holding on the glamour of Rubens, Titian and Fragonard.

Frago-who? This 18 th-century French painter of frills, foliage and flesh is the last time practitioner of the precious and playful rococo style that celebrated gratification and came to be seen by revolutionary moralists as a decadent courtly aesthetic of escapism and indulging. Many of his patrons succumbed for the purposes of the guillotine in the French change. He was unfashionable then and is unfashionable now, but Koons has put his erotic painterly genius into the heart of the mode nature with a container decorated with his 1770 covering Girl With a Dog, again decorated with the epithet FRAGONARD in gold.

Jeff Koonss Dirty Jeff on Top( 1991) with Made in Heaven( 1989) behind it. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian

This may not be such a surprising pick for Koons after all. Fragonards provocative decorate of a partly nude young lady playing with a fluffy dog in plot has at least two similarities with his own inventions. His giant floral effigies of puppies are among his most brilliant subversions of what modern artwork is supposed to look like, and the paintings voyeurism shares his appetite for blurring the line between art and pornography.

Notice this, and you encounter Jeff Koons in a different way. This is an artist who looks at and thinks about skill from the past, and knows his most bright thoughts there. The 18 th-century rococo and the strange genius of Fragonard is not something he detected yesterday. He has been drawing on the rococo for his carves for a long time. Similarly, his ostentatious super-pop decorates are nothing less than attempts to revive the force of Rubens. A subtle infatuation for artwork is concealed by his apparent notion in banality.

Now Koons is sharing the artistry he most desires. The strength of Rubens, the sensuality of Titian and the naughty painterly tarts of Fragonard clearly fascinate him, and he misses other people to see what he identifies. This is not simply a line of luxury purses. It is an artists musing on the masters, in handbag way. Picasso replica and reworked enormous decorates in his later years. Koons is offering other kinds of skill lesson, and it is a delight. I want to see the reputations FRAGONARD and RUBENS brightening on Oxford Street, on Fifth Avenue, their masterpieces walking out of the museum into modern lives.

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