Jeff Koons To Create BMW Art Car
Gotryke’s insider artist Lee Quinones attended a reception at Jeff Koons’ Chelsea studio, in which BMW announced that Koons will create the 17th art car, joining an esteemed group including Andy Warhol, Jenny Holzer, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, and Alexander Calder. A packed room of art world luminaries, socialites, journalists and car executives roamed the studio to munch on food prepared by Chef Thomas Keller. Here are Lee’s impressions.
When I arrived at the studio, the first work that caught my eye was a series of paintings in progress depicting the subject of pinup girl Betty Page. It appeared that the paintings would eventually reflect the bulbous sculptural work that is pure Koons.
In the pieces I saw in progress, everything was meticulously detailed on every point of the canvas. It seemed as if the imagery was projected onto the canvas, because there was no evidence of the telltale worked lines of pencil sketching. In his work, everything is broken down into grids to ensure the realization of the photo-realist qualities that are found in his painting style. His assistants were at it, painstakingly working fine brushes and custom-mixing oils blended to match the imagery on the computers. The resulting paintings were hypnotic. The pieces were filled with messages enhanced by lush oils.
I was drawn to a monochromic abstract painting that reminded me of a John Chamberlain sculpture. One of his assistants, Abby, was watching over the still-wet oil painting. She told me that each painting takes one year to complete, even with all the assistants. This particular piece was a recreation — the original painting was damaged in transit and Koons opted replace it. He destroyed the original. “Everybody has their process,” she said.
The studio was well kept and orderly with posted signs that workers should return things to their place to ensure order. It was like a series of garages joined at the hip to make one large space to accommodate the enormous spectrum of his work. Koons has everything in this space — giant sculptures, paintings, a research area,and drawing centers.
In some ways, the efficient production reminded me of my visits to Keith Haring’s studio in his heyday, but Keith only used five or six assistants and participated in the painting himself. Koons has 130 workers, most of whom are artists and create the factory ambiance that he cultivates with a highly refined vision. It made for a polished environment. Each Koons worker takes a tremendous amount of prides in the work that they do — working for one of the world’s best known living artists. They took time out to cheerily explain their process to the guests.
When the announcement was made by BMW President Jim O’Donnell, that Koons would create the next art car, it came across to be a partnership based in sincerity. The car was nowhere in sight, nor any imagery of the car, because they said it was still in the beginning stages. Koons said he was a fan of the BMW art cars and was seen in deep conversation with David Hockney. It was a fun eveining — I ran into several old art world pals, and one friend-of-a-friend one who told me that he had crashed the party with skater Oksana Baiul.
All in all, it was an evening that created anticipation for the coming of the 17th BMW art car– keeping them curious is always an effective approach in the art world spectacle.
More cars and art on Gotryke:
15 Examples Of Awesome Automotive Art (weburbanist.com)
BMW Chooses Schlock for Its Next Art Car (wired.com)
Jeff Koons has more than 120 Assistants (artnewsblog.com