Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fifty-thousand flowers of fun.

Jeff Koons, Split Rocker
If you’re the dealer/gallery that represents Jeff Koons, you’ve made a mountain of cash selling the mega-artist’s work.  So when the Whitney Museum of American Art plans a massive retrospective of Koons’ art, you might want to do something huge to amp-up the hype even more. That's exactly what Gagosian did.  The gallery agreed to present Jeff Koons’ spectacular Split Rocker in New York City’s famed Rockefeller Center.

I wrote recently about Koons’ retrospective at the Whitney and talked about Split Rocker (Orange Red) saying that the small, playful sculpture was more sinister and violent than it seems on the surface.  But it’s nearly impossible to think sinister or violent when you encounter this massive version of the sculpture with its stunning cover of live flowers.  The sculpture, which is 37 feet high and features over 50,000 flowers, is a work of surprise and delight.  And visitors were all too happy to enjoy the fun, snapping selfies from every angle possible.

Jeff Koons, Split Rocker
I now confess a guilty pleasure: I watch the Today Show just about every day. The TV shows’ plaza lines up perfectly with where they’ve positioned Split Rocker.  So part of the fun of visiting the work of art, was that there were daily glimpses of the installation in the background during the Today Show. I could watch the thing being built.  And now that it’s finished, you regularly see it in the background during the show’s summer concert series or other performances.  In fact, in a weird foreshadowing of my trip, there was a performance featuring Alan Cummings and the cast of Cabaret, a show for which I had long ago bought tickets. It was almost as if the cast of Cabaret were performing for Split Rocker. I even posted the fact on Instagram! (See below.)

In writing about Kara Walkers’ installation, I mentioned how much I admire cities like New York which are willing to embrace the epic ideas of artists and make them a reality.  I also mentioned that two such efforts were on display in New York this year.  The first was Kara Walkers' Subtlety. Split Rocker was the second.  Cities take note: If you want to be great, if you want have the world to take note, embrace artists’ impossible ideas that smaller cities (I’m talking to you Salida and Canyon City, Colorado) often consider foolish, useless, a waste of money, or just plain stupid.  Because I don’t think anyone ever regrets the wonder works like these inspire once they’ve been completed.

Here are a few more photos of Split Rocker (2000, stainless steel, soil, geotextile fabric, internal irrigation system, and live flowering plants.). It is spectacular:

Jeff Koons, Split Rocker

Detail: Jeff Koons, Split Rocker

Jeff Koons, Split Rocker

Jeff Koons, Split Rocker

Jeff Koons, Split Rocker
Deatil: Jeff Koons, Split Rocker

Instagrams from this visit:

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