Jeff Koons’ Louis Vuitton luggage: a joyful art biography exercise

In championing the likes of Fragonard, Rubens and Titian, Jeff Koons line of Louis Vuitton supplements accompanies high art to the high street and demo off his sincere feeling for painting

High art needs all the friends it can get. Museum attendance is stopping all over the world, and earnest to make efforts to court the young and identify with the new are clearly not working. Something more persuasive is required: definite devotion for enormous artwork in a language people in the 21 st century understand.

How about a Louis Vuitton baggage with RUBENS written on it in big-hearted golden letters over a reproduction of that 17 th-century painters violent, exuberant and lovely effort Tiger, Lion and the Leopard Hunt?

I cant think of a simpler way to set great prowes at the forefront of modern minds. This is not a cynical rehearsal. The hunt decorating is not a pop icon yet but a serious cover beloved by art connoisseurs. Jeff Koons, for instance.

Rubens is one of the great painters Koons has chosen to celebrate in a line of containers for Vuitton. Koons, a notorious appropriation artist, is notorious for transforming kitsch epitomes and objects into prowes, but for his array of handbags, rucksacks and other expensive supplements he is turning enormous artwork back into favourite culture. Just as Andy Warhol established Warholised versions of Renaissance artwork, Koons has revolved the old master into manner 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. Photograph: Louis Vuitton

For from scratching Rubens in the clay and reducing the exalted to the worthless, these luxury objects look to me like sincere adorations to great prowes. Koons clearly has an erudite and passionate passion of oil painting, for while his baggages touting the Mona Lisa and Van Goghs Wheat Field With Cypresses may be easy on our intelligences, he is also bravely educating us by insisting on the glamour of Rubens, Titian and Fragonard.

Frago-who? This 18 th-century French painter of flounces, foliage and chassis was the last practitioner of the precious and playful rococo form that celebrated pleasure and came to be seen by revolutionary moralists as a decadent courtly aesthetic of escapism and self-indulgence. Many of his purchasers died under 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 pattern world-wide with a baggage embellished with his 1770 painting Girl With a Dog, again emblazoned with the figure FRAGONARD in gold.

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

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

Notice this, and you experience Jeff Koons in another way. This is an artist who looks at and thinks about artistry from the past, and detects his most brilliant hypothesis there. The 18 th-century rococo and the strange genius of Fragonard is not something he detected yesterday. He has been reaping on the rococo for his carves for a long time. Similarly, his flamboyant super-pop paintings are nothing less than attempts to revive the energy of Rubens. A subtle rage for artwork is concealed by his apparent belief in banality.

Now Koons is sharing the artistry he most loves. The power of Rubens, the sensuality of Titian and the naughty painterly pastries of Fragonard clearly fascinate him, and he misses other people to see what he watches. This is not simply a line of indulgence handbags. It is an artists reflection on the masters, in handbag model. Picasso simulated and reworked enormous depicts in his later years. Koons is offering a different kind of artistry exercise, and it is a rejoice. I want to see the names FRAGONARD and RUBENS brightening on Oxford Street, on Fifth Avenue, their masterpieces walking out of the museum into modern lives.

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