There couldn't be a better way to start my visit to Madison Avenue but with a Jeff Koons' retrospective exhibition at Whitney Museum of American Art. Koons is second only to Andy Warhol in his capacity to interweave art and marketing. While Koons importance as an artist is intensely debated among critics, his commercial success cannot be doubted; his sculpture "Ballon Dog (Orange)" has fetched 58 million dollars at an auction last year, a record for a living artist.
I first heard of Jeff Koons in the early '90s when we had a lecture on contemporary art by Dragan Živadinov at my high school. That was the time when Koons made all the headlines by marrying Italian-Hungarian porn star Cicciolina and having a baby with her that was initially supposed to be named Kitsch but eventually got christened as Ludwig. Later I occasionally heard about some of Koons works but since this was mostly through reporting in general publications it was exclusively about excesses of modern art and never about the quality of Koons' work.
In that regard, Jeff Koon's retrospective at Whitney was the most revealing. I had no idea before how much effort and skill was required to reproduce the everyday objects used by the middle class Americans that are the focus of Koons artistic interest. For example, the red lobster looks like inflatable plastic even from the closes distance even though it is made of aluminum.