Jeff Koons’ Louis Vuitton bags: a rapturous skill record lesson

In championing the likes of Fragonard, Rubens and Titian, Jeff Koons line of Louis Vuitton supplementaries introduces high art to the high-pitched street and evidences off his sincere fury for painting

High art needs all the friends it can get. Museum attendance is falling all over the world, and earnest to make efforts to tribunal young persons and identify with the new are clearly not working. Something more forceful is requirement: unequivocal exuberance for great prowes in a language parties in the 21 st century understand.

How about a Louis Vuitton purse with RUBENS written on it in big-hearted gold words over a reproduction of that 17 th-century painters brutal, exuberant and exquisite duty Tiger, Lion and the Leopard Hunt?

I cant think of a simpler way to set great prowes at the forefront of modern brains. This is not a contemptuous employ. The hunting decorating is not a pop icon hitherto but a serious cover beloved by prowes connoisseurs. Jeff Koons, for instance.

Rubens is one of the great painters Koons has chosen to celebrate in a line of suitcases for Vuitton. Koons, a notorious appropriation master, is infamous for becoming kitsch portraits and objectives into prowes, but for his range of handbags, rucksacks and other expensive supplementaries he is turning great artistry back into popular culture. Just as Andy Warhol developed Warholised versions of Renaissance artwork, Koons has turned the old master into manner must-haves( if you can afford them rates range 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 dirt and reducing the exalted to the worthless, these indulgence objects look to me like fervent adorations to great prowes. Koons clearly has an erudite and enthusiastic charity of oil painting, for while his handbags touting the Mona Lisa and Van Goghs Wheat Field With Cypresses may be easy on our brains, he is also bravely developing us by holding on the glamour of Rubens, Titian and Fragonard.

Frago-who? This 18 th-century French painter of frills, foliage and flesh was the last practitioner of the precious and playful rococo style that celebrated please and came to be seen by revolutionary moralists as a decadent courtly aesthetic of escapism and indulgence. Many of his buyers expired for the purposes of the guillotine in the French revolution. He was unfashionable then and is unfashionable now, but Koons has put his erotic painterly genius into the heart of the fad world-wide with a bag embellished with his 1770 covering Girl With a Dog, again emblazoned with the mention FRAGONARD in gold.

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

This may not be such a surprising select for Koons after all. Fragonards provocative paint of a partly nude young lady playing with a fluffy bird-dog in bed has at least two similarities with his own creations. His giant floral bronzes of puppies are among his most bright subversions of what modern artwork is supposed to look like, and the depicts voyeurism shares his appetite for blurring the line between arts and pornography.

Notice this, and you envision Jeff Koons in a different way. This is an artist who looks at and thinks about art from the past, and finds his most brilliant impressions there. The 18 th-century rococo and the strange genius of Fragonard is not something he detected yesterday. He has been sucking on the rococo for his statues for a very long time. Similarly, his ostentatious super-pop paintings are nothing less than attempts to revive the vigour of Rubens. A subtle affection for artistry is concealed by his apparent belief in banality.

Now Koons is sharing the artwork he most charities. The supremacy of Rubens, the sensuality of Titian and the naughty painterly tarts of Fragonard clearly mesmerize him, and he wants other people to see what he identifies. This is not simply a line of luxury containers. It is an artists reflection on the masters, in handbag pattern. Picasso emulated and reworked enormous decorates in his later years. Koons is offering a different kind of artistry assignment, and it is a delight. I want to see the calls FRAGONARD and RUBENS brightening on Oxford Street, on Fifth Avenue, their masterpieces walking out of the museum into modern lives.

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