Koons takes over NYC museum
June 24, 2014 10:40 AM

NEW YORK — Jeff Koons is taking over the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The contemporary artist’s oversized toy-like sculptures of a dog, gorilla, Popeye and other works spanning a three-decade career will fill nearly the entire museum from Friday through Oct. 19.

“Jeff Koons: A Retrospective” is the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work — and the Whitney’s final show at its Madison Avenue location before moving downtown to a Renzo Piano-designed building in 2015.

Koons is arguably one of the most popular living artists today.

Last year, he became the most expensive living artist, too, when his “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for $58.4 million at auction.

“From tchotchkes and kitsch objects to working with pop stars like Lady Gaga on her recent album cover, he’s a rare artist who’s managed to find a broad audience,” said Scott Rothkopf, a Koons expert and curator of the exhibition.

The show’s planning and installation, four years in the making, has been a herculean task for the museum. For the first time, it had to remove the front doors and find creative ways for getting the monumental pieces to upper galleries.

His objects “are quite complicated to install in terms of their rigging and how they can be handled,” said Rothkopf. “They’re heavy, they’re big, they have very fragile surfaces that can crack or chip.”

“In terms of weight, size and delicacy, all together they create a trifecta, a perfect storm,” he added.

The museum created full-scale models of some objects to test how they would fit in the elevators. It made videos, 3-D renderings and small models to test clearances. It worked with engineering firms, riggers, Koons’ own team and the objects’ fabricators.

The sculpture court pavers were reinforced to take the weight of two never-before-seen black granite pieces: a woman reclining in a tub and Popeye planted with live flowers.

“It seems like an appropriate age to have a retrospective on this scale,” Koons, 59, said in an interview. “I was able to develop more work and execute ideas that I wanted to realize.”

His eight children have been an inspiration, he said, adding that his work is about “embracing the things that we love and enjoy” and bringing “a time and memory” from youth “when we were open to everything.”

The exhibition is a survey of his work from 1978 to the present, with the aluminum-cast 10-foot-high “Play-Doh” and a re-creation of Liberty Bell among several new works completed just days before the show’s opening.

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LOS ANGELES — When four social media divas were handed red-carpet and backstage interviewing duties for the Daytime Emmys, the result was anything but Hollywood magic.

The women who hosted the Emmy pre-show Sunday appeared largely ignorant about the actors and series that were being honored, instead unleashing attempts at bawdy humor that made sport of topics including rape and an actor’s race.

Their efforts made the usual red-carpet banter look scholarly by contrast.

The aftermath included harsh criticism for hosts Brittany Furlan, Lauren Elizabeth, Jessica Harlow and Meghan Rosette, who were described by Emmy organizers before the ceremony as “well-respected social media gurus” with big followings.

The show’s producer and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences likely saw them as a chance to put a more youthful face on Emmys that were streamed, not televised, when they failed to find a network or cable home in the face of dwindling interest.

Instead, as one website devoted to daytime serials said in a headline, the hosts created a “Red Carpet Train Wreck.”

They “know nothing about daytime television, came unprepared to the red carpet, conducted themselves in a very unprofessional manner, spewed profanity, a rape joke and a racist remark,” said soaps.com.

Here Media, the show’s producer, didn’t respond Monday to requests for comment from the company and from the four hosts it featured.

NATAS officials were en route back to New York from the Beverly Hills ceremony and not immediately available for comment, a spokesman said.

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