Art, but on a real
This series of articles will (hopefully) be written by me – your basement boy will be documenting the different exhibitions and events I attend: this will incorporate anything from fine art to pop art; cinematography to stills – the list goes on etc etc. The whole point in the series is to make art accessible – I (and those I have spoken to) feel that there is a perquisite that art is to be enjoyed by those of a ‘higher class’. And true, whilst a lot of art can be expensive to purchase (not box logo expensive, think more so deposit on a house) it doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyed by everyone. Art is something that I feel that people of all classes, ages, colours, and races should be exposed to at an early age. It allows for a creative stem that, in my opinion, isn’t encouraged enough in our current education system.
I’ve always wanted to learn more about art: different artists; different movements and eras etc, but I’ve never found (made) the time to do so. So, why not kill two birds with one stone? I took it upon myself to create this series to help to enlighten an audience (that’s you if you don’t leave) on art – making it more accessible and interesting than those in charge of our education system have done. At the same time, I will be learning with you guys – I will make mistakes; draw the wrong references; confuse movements with the names of food…but it’ll be cool. Because, from mistakes, we learn and learn we must.
Hopefully, from my abhorrently long rant above, you can see that my intentions for this series are clear: I’m not an art grad, a connoisseur or even a budding enthusiast – I’m just a kid with a camera and the ability to make funny (debatable) analogies.
I guess I’m just not that into art, eh?
So, today I met a friend (who happens to be a huge art enthusiast) and went to the Jeff Koons exhibition ‘Now’. Now, I won’t lecture you for long on who he is, what he did etc, because I don’t feel that it (the detailed prior knowledge) is a necessity in order to appreciate his art. However, I will tell you a little about him. Jeff studied art in in Baltimore and Chi town before moving to New York to work at the membership desk of the MoMA (just means he worked at the museum of modern art). I guess you could compare some of his earliest works to works such as Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades – everyday objects transmuted into works of art.
This brings me onto one of his first experiments in his ready-made pieces – the Inflatable Flowers (or Short White, Tall Purple if you wanna be fancy). For Koons, objects containing air resemble our own bodies, which are inflatables themselves. He goes on to say ‘Every time you take a breath, it’s like a symbol of life, and every time you exhale, its like a symbol of death’. Deep, I know.
Now for me, I love watching basketball – especially, the short clips on Facebook of people crossing over people/children/small pets and making them look like they just died. So, inherently, when I saw three basketballs suspended perfectly in water, I was intrigued. Turns out that the basketballs float in a precarious balance that can be upset by conditions in the outside world – like vibrations or changes in the temperature. Whilst that’s all cool, I wanted to know how they got the balls to be exactly half submerged below the water. Koons himself actually consulted Physicist, Richard P. Feynman about the precise solution to keep the balls ‘perfectly’ submerged. He did so by filling the balls with a carefully mixed suspension, thus creating an ‘equilibrium which is not permanent but very pure’. I was pleased to know that it was more than just aesthetically pleasing, but rather innovative too. Aside from the finished piece being aesthetically pleasing, it had a deeper meaning too. Koons had presented a new series of work and ‘Three Ball 50/50 Tank’ (the basketball pic) was a part of it. The theme in the series was focusing on themes of social mobility – central to ‘The American Dream’ – and the humane want and desire for unattainable states of being – a state that in most cases, doesn’t come naturally. For example: the use of editing on photos to alter its natural state and to make it more visually pleasing to the eye or the editing of people’s photos for social media – sure, it’s bit ‘deeper’ than that, but you get the idea. We all do it! Whether it’s just a filter or a full on Photoshop session, we are all guilty of eradicating the natural aspect of the imagery to create something nearer to ‘unattainable states of being’.
In terms of sheer talent and skill, this was by far one of the most impressive pieces of work in the gallery. At first glance, this looks like a huge inflatable (which it is meant to look like!). However, study it more closely and you’ll discover that the whole thing is made out of stainless steel. Upon learning that, I was blown away! The piece looks exactly like a huge blow up would, down to the striations and stress marks on the surface of it; the ripples and lines in between the sections, mimicking the points at which a rubber balloon would be twisted to create an animal. The idea behind this was to create artwork depicting a vinyl inflatable that would stand the test of time. He began his venture by casting inflatables in durable materials such a stainless steel. The whole thing is made of steel. Maaadting. As well, Koons also brought into play another recurring theme of his – the concept of the self. He says that the reflective nature of the piece ‘constantly reminds viewers of their existence, it’s all about you. When you leave the room, it’s gone’.
Overall, I was very pleased with the exhibition. I learnt a lot about Koons and his ideology – his interpretation of the world and how he sees it. I also got to witness one of the most iconic pop-artist’s works in the flesh – something that I’m truly grateful for. If you have the chance to, check it out and let me know what you think. I wish I could cover every piece in the exhibition, but instead I just chose to focus on a few that drew my attention. But you never know, what interests me may not interest you, and I’d love to see what does. Here are some pictures of the other part of the exhibition anyway. It’d be a shame not to share.
I’m always more interested in something if there is a story to it – a meaning, an ideology of sorts. This is what I want to convey to everyone, and learn more about. Art is an outsource of emotions, thoughts and ideas. It allows anyone to ‘describe’ how he or she is feeling about something, to share a story. I sincerely hope this short insight into Koons’s ‘Now’ has taught you a bit about his story.
Written and shot (badly) By Tayler Prince-Fraser
Edited (well) by Darren Anthony Stodartt