JEFF KOONS (B. 1955)
JEFF KOONS (B. 1955)
JEFF KOONS (B. 1955)
JEFF KOONS (B. 1955)
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The Elegant Eye: Works from an Exceptional International Collection
JEFF KOONS (B. 1955)

Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold)

JEFF KOONS (B. 1955)
Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold)
mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
78 3⁄8 x 76 13⁄16 x 76 in. (199 x 195 x 193 cm.)
Executed in 1994-2008. This work is one of five unique versions (Turquoise/Magenta, Blue/Turquoise, Blue/Gold, Orange/Magenta, Pink/Gold).
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
H. W. Holzwarth, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 2008, p. 416 (Orange/Magenta version illustrated).
A. Haden-Guest, "Takeover Moscow," Whitewall, Winter 2009, p. 49 (Turquoise/Magenta version illustrated).
B. Lewis, "Popeye the Eye-Popper," Evening Standard, 2 July 2009, p. 34.
Sana, "Symbols Tell the Story,” Vogue Japan, no. 125, January 2010, p. 22 (Turquoise/Magenta version illustrated).
A. Abascal, "Vestir Una Pasion," Vogue Mexico, May 2011, p. 314 (Pink/Gold version illustrated).
"Jeff Koons," Central Plains Journal, May 2011, p. 10 (Turquoise/Magenta version illustrated).
M. Hollein, S. Rothkopf, J. Pissarro, M. Ulrich, and J. Fraiman, eds., Jeff Koons: The Painter and The Sculptor, Ostfildern, 2012, pp. 85 and 91 (Turquoise/Magenta version illustrated).
J. Frimbois and M. Nakamura, Art Actuel, January/February 2012, (Orange/Magenta version illustrated on the cover).
U. Arnold, The Art of Engineering / The Engineering of Art, Friedrichsdorf, 2014, p. 115 (Turquoise/Magenta version illustrated).
Jeff Koons: A Retrospective, exh. cat., New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art; Paris, Centre Pompidou and Guggenheim Bilbao, 2014-2015, fig. 11, p. 149 (Turquoise/Magenta version illustrated).
"Gagosian Gallery Exhibitions," Gagosian Quarterly, November-January 2015, (Orange/Magenta version illustrated).
E. M. Bukdahl, The Recurrent Actuality of the Baroque, Controluce, 2017, p. 184, fig. 71 (Turquoise/Magenta version illustrated).
Moscow, Red October Factory (Gagosian Gallery exh.), For what you are about to receive, September-October 2008, pp. 29, 214, 219 and 232 (Turquoise/Magenta version exhibited, illustrated).
Berlin, Neue National Gallery, Jeff Koons: Celebration, October 2008-February 2009 (Turquoise/Magenta version exhibited).
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Baroque Egg with Bow, February 2012-February 2015 (Orange/Magenta version exhibited).


Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale


Jeff Koons’s Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold) is a reminder of the artist’s unparalleled ability to infuse simple objects with complex layers of meaning. Standing nearly seven feet tall, the dazzling splendor of the present work conceals the complicated conceptual relationship between desire and consumption, and memory and joy. An outstanding example of the exacting fabrication for which the artist is celebrated, the luminous exterior celebrates Koons's holistic approach to art, combining concept and construction to turn a moment of celebration into a moment of magic.

The egg, a symbol of fertility and completeness, has long inspired Koons and resulted in a sustained body of work. His choice of subject matter is not random, but rather intentionally used to evoke a variety of sensations and memories. From the mysterious world created by Hieronymus Bosch, to the extravagance of Peter Carl Fabergé’s bejeweled eggs for the Russian Imperial court, the egg has become a highly emotive symbol of the “balance of the symmetrical and asymmetrical, a sense of the fertile, and a sense of the eternal through biology and procreation, and then, on the other hand, you have the sense of the spiritual, very ethereal, eternal: the polarities” (J. Koons, quoted in A. Hüsch, ed., Jeff Koons: Celebration, exh. cat., Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin 2008, p. 87).

Koons has often drawn inspiration from the Baroque, the period in the early to mid-seventeenth century characterized by opulent interiors and the intermixing of religious themes with eroticism. Koons explains, “I use the Baroque to show the public that we are in the realm of the spiritual, the eternal. The church uses the Baroque to manipulate and seduce, but in return it does give the public a spiritual experience. My work deals in the vocabulary of the Baroque” (J. Koons, quoted in A. Muthesius, Jeff Koons, Cologne, 1992, p. 158). During this period, the spiritual and the sensual were interconnected. Perhaps the most famous Baroque painting is Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665), whose smooth and alluring jewelry could be the seventeenth-century precursor to Koons’s egg. Koons and Vermeer are unmatched in their use of light and reflection, a skill that transforms the egg and the pearl earring alike into transcendent, ethereal beings rather than mute objects. It has been suggested that the pearl earring is in fact not pearl, but rather polished tin or silver, like the mirror polished stainless steel used by Koons. In any case, the gentle eroticism of Vermeer’s handling of the portrait can only be matched by Koons’s eye for the feminine curvature of Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold).

Eighteenth-century genre painting likewise elevated the everyday and the overlooked into moments of beauty. Jean Siméon Chardin’s Still Life with Eggs, Cheese, and a Pitcher (c. 1760) and Still Life with Copper Pot, Cheese and Eggs (c. 1730-1735) are as much displays of artistic skill as they are representations of abundance. The modeling and chiaroscuro on the eggs render them as small, fecund sculptures, which Koons blows up to larger-than-life proportions. The century also saw genre and domestic scenes as moral tales of virginity, as with Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s Broken Eggs (1756). A young servant girl has spilled her basket of eggs, and her seemingly minor mistake is actually a metaphor for lost youth. Similarly, Koons uses imagery that evokes these morality tales to advocate for greater freedom and understanding around sex. Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold) is purposefully open so that the viewer can come away with their own impression, be it about candy or allegory.

The influence of the House of Fabergé on Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold) cannot be overlooked. Koons and Fabergé share a dedication to their craft and a love for an opulent objet. Fabergé’s process required the utmost dedication, just as Koons’s eggs are likewise painstakingly executed, “[Fabergé] eggs could almost always be opened and there would be a surprise inside. For the most part, work on these eggs was very complicated. To avoid repetition we had to vary the materials, the exterior, and the content of the egg. The process of making these eggs usually took about one year” (G. von Habsberg, Fabergé: Imperial Jeweler, St. Petersburg, 1993, p. 452-453). Finally, the canonical Fabergé eggs were commissioned as gifts to be exchanged among the royalty of Imperial Russia, and it has always been Koons’s wish for his work to be understood as a gift, hence the intricate bow atop his sculptural confection.

Koons’s ongoing impulse to reimagine the cycle of life and death, the possibility of transcendence, and the ongoing relevance of art history are distilled into Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold). His sculptures are always reflections of his loves and obsessions. He says, “If you focus on your interest, it always takes you to a very metaphysical place. It connects you to a kind of archetypal, communal vocabulary” (J. Koons, quoted in B. Boucher, “’I Believe in Not Making Judgements’: The Jeff Koons Interview,” ARTnews, June 25, 2014). He certainly creates this community with Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold), which inherits an entire aesthetic tradition and breathes new life into it. A unique and seductive work, Baroque Egg with Bow (Pink/Gold) shows Koons at his very best.

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