While in the UK, AM made a special visit to the Serpentine Gallery to get an exclusive viewing of “Popeye Series, Jeff Koons first major exhibition in London. The show is a sort of a retrospective in the sense that it contains a select range of artwork and sculptures from 2002 – 2009.

The main focus are his classic Popeye canvases. Utilizing his signature art-historical references, he created a series of artwork around Popeye, a mild manner sailor that represented the ideals of the everyday man during a time of hardship during the Great Depression. Of course, with our turbulent economic times, it seems very fitting that Koons decides to bring the focus of this show back to this character. Layered in his detailed paintings are his constant exploration of banality, childhood, sexuality, and consumerism.

Along with the “Popeye Series,” Koons also exhibits his iconic “inflatable” sculptures.  These true-to-scale replications of the inflatable toys from our childhood bring back fond nostalgic memories of adolescent joy. But, unlike the delicate flotation devices of our youth, these sculptures are skillfully rendered in aluminum and will not “deflate” nor disappoint. With Jeff Koons, that’s the charm of these beautiful sculptures. He brings back all the joy of yesteryear with a durable twist. Imagine an “Aero Bed” that never deflates. Leave it to Mr. Koons to make that into a reality.

Even with all the criticism regarding the shallowness of Koons’ “mind-numbing’ works, the gallery was packed with London-ites and tourists alike. These same art experts mention Koons’ works are for people with “short attention spans.” With the turnout this show has generated, maybe these critics are the only ones in the UK who don’t have “short attention spans.”

Having seen this show in person, we feel that much of Koons’ deeply culturally relevant pieces are ingeniously produced in a deceptively easy to digest packaging. Before the viewer knows it, they are sucked into a world where sex, greed, pride, and commercialism are blended into a one stop show in London.

For those collectors looking to add to their Koons collection, the Serpentine Gallery has a very limited signed lithograph by Jeff from an edition of 50 created just for this exhibition. If interested contact the gallery here.

Special thanks to Rene/Mark Songui and Anne Parkes of the Serpentine Gallery for the exclusive tour.
Discuss Jeff Koons here.