Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania; as a teenager he revered Salvador Dalí, to the extent of visiting him at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. Koons attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Maryland Institute College of Art, and studied painting. After college he worked as a Wall Street commodities broker, whilst establishing himself as an artist. He gained recognition in the 1980s, and subsequently set up a factory-like studio in a SoHo loft on the corner of Houston and Broadway in New York. This had over 30 staff, each assigned to a different aspect of producing his work—in a similar mode to both Andy Warhol's Factory, Damien Hirst, and many Renaissance artists.
In 1992, Koons’ forty-foot-high sculpture Puppy, a rendering of a West Highland terrier comprised of soil and living, multicolored flowers, was installed in Kassel during Documenta. Though not part of the official show, the sculpture was extremely popular and has since been displayed in other cities, including New York, Sydney, and Bilbao. In his work since the mid-1990s—in series such as Celebration (1995–98), Easyfun (1999–2000), and Easyfun/Ethereal (2000–02), Koons has continued to produce sculpture but has also concentrated on complex paintings that oscillate between abstraction and pop-culture references.
Koons has had numerous exhibitions since a 1980 window installation at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, P.S.1 in New York (1981). Projekte in Münster (1987), Whitney Biennial (1987 and 1989), Carnegie International (1988), Biennale of Sydney (1990), Venice Biennale (1990 and 1997), American Art in the Twentieth Century at the Royal Academy of Arts in London (1993), and Hypermental at Kunsthaus Zürich (2000). Debut retrospective at MCA Chicago (1988), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1992), Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (1993), Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (1995), Guggenheim Bilbao (1997), Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (2000), Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Guggenheim Bilbao, Bienal de Sao Paulo, Guggenheim Museum New York (2002), Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli in Naples (2003), Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo (2004), Helsinki City Art Museum (2005), Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2008), Versailles in France (2008), MCA Chicago (2008).
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