Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Jeff Koons and the Aesthetics of Frivolity

By Capri Rosenberg.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper analyzes the commercial success of contemporary artist Jeff Koons, who is known for his monumental balloon animals and kitschy porcelain figurines. Love him or hate him, one should not make the mistake of confusing the message for the messenger as Koons’s work is a reflection of the emptiness, idolatry and materialism of our age. Moreover, the conflation of art with cheap consumerist kitsch is a function of a limited understanding of the term aesthetics, which has often associated with superfluity and vague notions of taste and beauty. However, the realm of aesthetics is fundamental to human agency and freedom. Indeed, if we are to have any hope of a meaningful existence in hyperreal landscape of the twenty-first century, then we must reclaim art as experience and aesthetics as ontology.

Keywords: Jeff Koons, Aesthetics, Liberation Aesthetics, Incarceration Aesthetics, Art Market

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp.105-110. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 585.580KB).

Capri Rosenberg

Professor, Art History, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, USA

Capri Rosenberg teaches modern and contemporary art and theory at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She earned a Ph.D. at Duke University in 2008, where the focus of her dissertation was the international exhibition Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection (1997-2000). Her current research uses the theory of liberation aesthetics to critique the spectacularization of contemporary art and to re-envision the role and function of contemporary art practices.


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