Jeff Koons’ Louis Vuitton pockets: a rapturous art record exercise

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

High art needs all the friends it can get. Museum attendance is stopping all over “the worlds”, and earnest attempts to tribunal the young and identify with the new are clearly not working. Something more persuasive is needed: definitive exuberance for great art in different languages beings in the 21 st century understand.

How about a Louis Vuitton container with RUBENS written on it in big-hearted gold notes over a reproduction of that 17 th-century painters violent, exuberant and sumptuous undertaking Tiger, Lion and the Leopard Hunt?

I cant think of a simpler way to introduce great artwork at the forefront of modern knowledge. This is not a contemptuous exercise. The hunt covering is not a pop icon hitherto but a serious depict beloved by prowes connoisseurs. Jeff Koons, for instance.

Rubens is one of the great painters Koons has chosen to celebrate in a line of handbags for Vuitton. Koons, a notorious appropriation artist, is infamous for passing kitsch personas and objects into prowes, but for his scope of handbags, rucksacks and other expensive supplements he is turning great art back into favourite culture. Just as Andy Warhol established Warholised different versions of Renaissance prowes, Koons has altered the old master into pattern must-haves( if you can afford them prices stray 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 rubbing Rubens in the grunge and reducing the sublime to the worthless, these indulgence objectives look to me like heartfelt homages to enormous skill. Koons clearly has an erudite and heartfelt desire of oil painting, for while his pouches touting the Mona Lisa and Van Goghs Wheat Field With Cypresses may be easy on our brains, he is also bravely civilizing 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 form that celebrated amusement and came to be seen by revolutionary moralists as a decadent courtly aesthetic of escapism and indulging. Many of his purchasers expired under 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 fad nature with a pocket decorated with his 1770 covering Girl With a Dog, again decorated with the name FRAGONARD in gold.

Jeff Koonss Dirty Jeff on Top( 1991) with Induced 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 cover of a partly nude young lady playing with a fluffy hound in bunk has at least two similarities with his own innovations. His monstrous floral effigies of puppies are among his most brilliant subversions of what modern art is supposed to look like, and the paintings voyeurism shares his appetite for blurring the line between art and pornography.

Notice this, and you discover Jeff Koons in a different way. This is an artist who looks at and thinks about artistry from the past, and find his most bright theories there. The 18 th-century rococo and the unusual genius of Fragonard is not something he discovered yesterday. He has been gleaning on the rococo for his figures for a very long time. Similarly, his ostentatious super-pop decorates are nothing less than attempts to revive the power of Rubens. A subtle fury for prowes is concealed by his apparent notion in banality.

Now Koons is sharing the prowes he most ardours. The strength of Rubens, the sensuality of Titian and the naughty painterly tarts of Fragonard clearly mesmerize him, and he misses other people to see what he encounters. This is not simply a line of indulgence crates. It is an artists reflection on the masters, in handbag figure. Picasso facsimile and reworked enormous paints in his later years. Koons is offering other kinds of artistry assignment, and it is a exultation. I want to see the refers FRAGONARD and RUBENS brightening on Oxford Street, on Fifth Avenue, their masterpieces walking out of the museum into modern lives.

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