What We Hope To See at Jeff Koons’ Whitney Retrospective

The Whitney Museum of American Art is getting ready to say goodbye to its ritzy uptown digs before moving to a larger space in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. And before it goes, there will be one last huge exhibit: a retrospective of work by controversial artist Jeff Koons.

“This will be the first time a single artist has ever taken over almost the entire museum,” Whitney curator Scott Rothkopf told the Times. “We wanted to choose an iconic American artist as a farewell to the Breuer building.”

The show, set to open in January 2014, will include over 100 of Koons’ works dating from 1979 through 2004. It will be the first time a New York museum has been able to pull of a retrospective of Koons’ work, which is often very expensive to manufacture and difficult to handle.

Koons’ catalog isn’t made up of pretty paintings, however. The artist is perhaps best known for his oversized metallic sculptures that look like balloon animals and his “Made In Heaven” series of paintings, which depicted him and his (now ex) wife, Italian porn star turned politician Ilona Staller. 

There’s plenty of other work in Koons’ oeuvre, however. Here are five works we can’t to see up close.

Koons Jackson

Michael Jackson and Bubbles: In the late 1980s, Koons made three of these sculptures, which portray Michael Jackson and his best pal, the chimpanzee Bubbles, in porcelain and gold leaf.

Koons Puppy

Puppy: This 43-foot-tall topiary sculpture was created in the early 1990s, and while it’s adorable, the most interesting part of this dog’s life was when three members of a Basque separatist group attempted to plant explosives near the sculpture while it was on display in Bilbao.

Koons Car

BMW Art Car: Who says art can’t be functional? In 2010 Koons designed this car for BMW and then entered it in a race. Unfortunately the stunning and rare vehicle did not win.

Koons Train

Train: A $25 million, 70-foot replica of a Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive is being considered by the folks behind New York’s High Line as decoration for the elevated park. But where better to debut the piece, which could perhaps be finished in time for the Whitney show, than on Madison Avenue?

Koons Heaven

Dirty – Jeff on Top: Of all the porno-style images from the “Made In Heaven” series, this is one of our favorites. Plus it seems like a good sculpture to hang out near and meet people.

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