American artist Jeff Koons has partnered with French porcelain maker Bernardaud in a new collaboration. Art lovers will recognise three works from Koons’ catalogue—the Balloon Swan, Balloon Rabbit and Balloon Monkey—which have been transformed into a limited edition collection of charming curios.
Each of these three porcelain objects is available in a limited edition of 999 copies (prices on request) in a choice of magenta, red, purple, blue or yellow. They are miniature copies of the Celebrations series which consists of three works reminiscent of balloon animal sculptures seen at funfairs. With their reflective surface, which has become a Jeff Koons hallmark, these large-scale pieces say a lot about the way in which this contemporary artist thinks and works.
Balloon Swan, the statuette in the shape of a swan, is thought to be inspired by one of Koons’ first ceramic sculptures, made when he was only nine years old. The story goes that he took a year to find the right angle for the swan’s neck. It was many years before the swan was transformed into a gigantic piece. The work reminds us of childhood, but also desire and contentment. Jeff Koons has said that Balloon Swan harmonises sexual energy and is both masculine and feminine.
An Easter bunny and a lecherous monkey
Childhood is also a theme of the Balloon Rabbit. It is inspired by inflatable rabbits that people put in their gardens in the spring, around Easter time, in Pennsylvania where Koons grew up. The artist says “I was always very struck by the generosity of the neighbours in doing that, giving pleasure to other people in that way … One of the things that I’m most proud of is making work that lets viewers not feel intimidated by art, but feel that they can emotionally participate in it through their senses and their intellect.”
The statuette of the Balloon Monkey is another allegorical figure thought to symbolise pleasure, sexuality and innocence. This can be seen in the phallic form of the animal’s tail. The monkey is a recurring character in Koons’ work, including in “Michael Jackson and Bubbles,” a life-size porcelain sculpture created in 1988 which depicts the late King of Pop and his famous pet.
Jeff Koons has been a major figure in the art world for the past 30 years. Considered to be the heir of Pop Art, he has exhibited his work in prestigious museums around the world. This is not the first time that he has collaborated with Bernardaud.
Founded in 1863 in the French city of Limoges, the renowned porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud regularly collaborates with big names in the art world, such as Marina Abramovic and the Campana brothers.