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Jeff Koons, Encased – Four Rows (1983-93)

July 16, 2013
(c) Jeff Koons
(c) Jeff Koons

There are worse crimes than misnomers. But after he arranged these shop-bought basketballs all that Jeff Koons had to do was name them. How could he get it so wrong?

Alert readers will by now realise there are in fact four columns and six rows. Koons is no doubt aware of his slip. So it shows something of a contempt for language.

That’s not a good look for a serious artist, let alone one who strives for perfection in the way his technicians execute each new painting and sculpture.

Or has he gone with the title to admit that, hey, he has feet of clay after all. It could be a way of appearing before us as naked as he did for the Made in Heaven series.

Either way, it bugs me. Nothing for it but to enjoy the product. Forced to read the packaging, you could for a moment imagine slam dunking one or two . . .

. . . if that’s something you’ve ever been able to do. But in Koonsland anything seems possible. It seems possible to live without shame, for example, but it is not.

If this sculpture were not tactile enough, the copy on the boxes advises you of their amazing grip. It is palpable. Surely you could bounce one? No not even that

To unpack would be to destroy it, in the same way as Koons’ vacuum cleaners are not to be switched on. He points towards a perfect world and then he seals it off.

This keeps collectors hungry for the next empty promise. To paraphrase a stunt by Damien Hirst, the work is beautiful inside the head forever. Now that I guess was a title.

Jeff Koons (ARTIST ROOMS) can be seen at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery until September 8 2013

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