Jeff Koons at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

The Jeff Koons exhibition at the Norwich Castle art gallery has been running from 9th May and finishes on the 6th September and has attracted over 50000 members of the public...

Jeff Koons at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

With this in mind I thought it was about time to check it out. In the past he has filled a large part of Covent Garden with a silver inflatable bunny and his giant Puppy statue stands proudly at the front of the Guggenheim Bilbao museum. With his works filling some big tourist hotspots this would suggest that these simple yet bold figures hold something that the public eye can relate to. As one of his quotes that decorate the walls of the exhibition states: 'I tell a story for anyone to enter and on some level enjoy.' But his work has divided critics, it has been described as kitsch, brash and banal and I can understand this as I walk around the exhibition – but that is not to say the work is bad, not at all.

The words that come to me as I look at Winter Bears, Caterpillar Chains and Flowers are playful, colourful and even childlike. Yet, the materials of this piece suggest highly skilled craftsmanship; Flowers is made from Venetian Murano glass, and the bears have been sculpted by some of the finest woodcarvers from Germany and Italy. The complex creation of Winter Bears is a contrast to the gaudy image of the two smiling models waving and holding hands. Koons' work on a superficial level may seem light-hearted and unserious, but on second thoughts they display much more than this – there is a theme of external versus internal reality. In some of his earlier pieces from the Equilibrium series it almost seems as if you have walked into a shop judging by the immaculate and rigidly positioned appearance of the basketballs and hoovers - a nod to increasingly mass produced and consumer culture. The irony I find in these is that the art presents everyday objects, yet they seem to reject the essence of the home. These three hoovers precisely placed in a line are something that you are drawn out of the house to see; the dramatization of daily life, the deconstruction of normality – is this 'high art'?


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