Jeff Koons is, by measures understood in Wall Street, the most successful living artist. But he’s a slick brand manager rather than a tormented creative soul. The Koons brand includes a stainless steel bust of Louis XIV, a red aluminium lobster and balloon dogs, plus countless knock-offs of novelty-store dross.
It is tempting to think Koons a vulgarian and condemn his art as crapola, but to do so would be lazy. There’s no point in criticising him for his cynical exploitation of the credulous art market, since that is exactly his intention. Futile to damn him as vacuous; he’d be flattered.
All artistic achievement can be assessed in terms of skill, talent and genius. Koons has very little technical skill: his work is made by production-line assistants. He stands back from the process and the product. Duchamp? Warhol? Oh yes, we have been here before. The great Robert Hughes said that, so far as a sculptor’s skills were concerned, Koons would have difficulty carving his name on a tree.