MASTERPIECE LONDON 2018
Olive Oyl, 2004
1 of 5 unique editions
Stainless steel with transparent colour coating
151 x 180 cm / 59.4 x 70.9 in
ProvenanceBought directly from the Artist
Sonnabend Gallery, USA
This work is part of the Popeye series, started by Koons in 2002. Pieces from this body of work were exhibited in the artist’s first major London exhibition Jeff Koons: Popeye Series at the Serpentine Gallery in 2009. “I wanted to have a dialogue with art history and with Pop art, and also a dialogue with technology and the passage of technology and to deal with the aspect of acceptance. For me Popeye is a figure who has his limitations but there’s this sense of acceptance […] One of the lines that Popeye is known for is ‘I am what I am’ […], is a symbol of the beginning of the twentieth century and if you think of the beginning of the twentieth century, Surrealism, particularly Dalì, and Dada were really movements that dealt with self acceptance”. This is how Koons explained his attraction to the Popeye imagery of the iconic 1930s cartoon which is the inspiration behind this series. It explores some of his main ideas and motifs: the surreal combinations of objects, cartoon imagery, art-historical references and children’s toys. Reappropriating Popeye and his girlfriend Olive Oyl, he adapts them to his own artistic concerns: consumerism, banality, American popular culture and childhood, here referenced in this characteriscally meticulously fabricated work. The shiny surface of Olive Oyl reveals the artist’s openness to the viewer, who cannot avoid seeing himself reflected in the artwork when looking at it. The viewer becomes part of the work, in a sense completing it, recalling the working practices of the Surrealists or Dadaists. Here, colour is used to describe the shape of Olive Oyl’s profile in a more painterly fashion, echoing the painterly collages of the Popeye Series, as shown at the Serpentine. Jeff Koons is one of contemporary art’s stars whose work holds numerous auction records. On November 12, 2013, Koons's Balloon Dog (Orange) sold at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York City for US$58.4 million, above its high US$55 million estimate, becoming the most expensive work by a living artist sold at auction His work was the subject of a major exhibition organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (June 27 - October 19, 2014), which traveled to the Centre Pompidou Paris (November 26, 2014 - April 27, 2015) and the Guggenheim Bilbao (June 9 - September 27, 2015).