Happy Birthday, Jeff Koons

At the dawn of the 61st year of the king of kitsch, we've collected some of the best (and worst) things ever said about the polarizing power player.

by Emerson Rosenthal
Jan 21 2016, 9:10pm

Jeff Koons stands beside his sculpture Gazing Ball (Charity). Photo by Neil Rasmus/, via

Like it or love it, no matter your position on contemporary art, Jeff Koons has something to do with it. Today, the eminent balloon dog trainer, self-made porn star, and king of kitsch turns 61. According to Broadly's staff astrologer, Annabel Gat, his horoscope is as follows: "Aquarian people are famous for being the logical geniuses of the zodiac, and you [Jeff Koons] are also very psychic—especially today, with the Moon in psychic Water sign Cancer. Tonight will bring an opportunity to get intimate." We're hoping La Cicciolina isn't reading this. 

For your consideration, we've compiled some of the best—and worst—things ever said about the mega-creator. Agree? Disagree? Indifferent? No matter—feels are felt. 

"To take Koons’s art to task for the hollowness at its core is shooting fish in a barrel — a truism that leads us nowhere." - Thomas Micchelli, Hyperallergic (2014) 

"That Koons will be Koons is his own business. That he has had his way with the art world is everybody’s business. No wonder the people in the galleries at the Whitney look a little dazed. The Koons cult has triumphed. For his next project Koons should consider manufacturing a ten-foot-high polychromed aluminum Kool-Aid container. It could come right after Play-Doh in the “Celebration” series." - Jed Perl, The New York Review of Books (2014)

"There is, to put it simply, absolutely no valid reason besides money to exhibit this dreck today." Christian Viveros-Fauné, Village Voice (2010)

"Why Won't Jeff Koons Leave Us Alone?" Bob Nickas, VICE (2012)

"No, Koons is not 'our Warhol,' as so many claim. Warhol’s complex aura changed everything, whereas Koons is cheery, centerless, more of a bland Mitt Romney Teletubby than a mysterious force of nature." - Jerry Saltz, Vulture (2014)

"The erotic and, to some extent, the scatological are never far beneath the surface in Mr. Koons’s art." - Roberta Smith, The New York Times (2014)

Jeff Koons, "Michael Jackson and Bubbles," 1988, porcelain, 42 x701/2 x321/2in. © Jeff Koons. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio, LA, via

"We might justly term the present Mammon-driven era in contemporary art the Koons Age. No other artist so lends himself to a caricature of the indecently rich ravening after the vulgarly bright and shiny. But mockery comes harder when, approaching the work with eyes and mind open, you encounter Koons’s formidable aesthetic intelligence." - Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker (2014) 

 “If all you want is a good time, he won’t let you down. But underneath the primitive thirst for delight and pleasure in his works, I think he is deeply engaged in some philosophical questions. Both Marxists and kids can enjoy it.” - New Museum of Contemporary Art curator Dan Cameron to Kelly Devine Thomas, ARTnews (2005) 

"The aquarium tanks situated throughout the gallery [in Koons' 1985 show at New York's International With Monument] contained balls suspended illogically at fixed depths, neither floating nor sinking. These, conceivably, symbolize an unvarying actual state of things existing beneath the hyperactive surface of life—not death, exactly, which causes matter to continue doing things, nor what one would care to call life, but a state like narcolepsy, in which just enough energy accumulates and gets expended to maintain immobility. This (I think) is Koons's metaphor for current conditions in the biosphere—in art, culture and the social world. Koons puts this all across with such finesse and amiability that I could be completely mistaken about it, but the show did invite interpretation." - Gary Indiana, Art in America (1985) 

"Like Mapplethorpe, Koons brings into art images that are designed to shock, his particular forte being kitsch. He follows in a long line of artists who have invited “low” material into art, yet few before him have treated kitsch with such exaggerated respect." - Mark Stevens, Vanity Fair (1989)

 “One second I’m a Koons, then suddenly the Koons is me." Lady Gaga, "Applause" (2013)

So, what do you think—or do you not think—about Jeff Koons? Let us know on Twitter @CreatorsProject or in the comments below. 


An Online Garage Sale Is Your Chance to Snag Lost Treasures from Koons and More

Jeff Koons Is Releasing His First Piece Of Digital Art

10 Modern Masterpieces from The Broad Museum’s Debut

contemporary art
art criticism
Jeff Koons
Balloon Dog
jerry Saltz
Roberta Smith