May 17, 2010


click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Enter one room of San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art and you might wonder -- just for a moment -- if the lights on the floor are something they are in the process of installing, or if they are already installed just laying there on the floor.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Well, when first spotting Michael Jackson taking up a prominent space at SF MOMA I gave a bit of a sigh, until I got closer and became completely captivated by the big ceramic cookie jar, or whatever it is supposed to be.

Oh, it's a very shiny M.J. and Bubbles (((only part of Bubble's ear is seen here, so CLICK for a photo of both M.J. and Bubbles))) done up with enough gold gilt to fill the bill. It's larger than life and it's wonderful. It seems like it could easily break.

Designed by Jeff Koons, born 1955.
A sign on the wall reads:

This exquisitely crafted sculpture is based on a publicity photograph of Michael Jackson and his primate companion, Bubbles. In addition to calling attention to society's obsession with celebrity, Koon's choice of materials and subject matter upends controversial divisions between art and commodity, the sublime and the trite. In what could be described as a piece of cheap kitsch blown up to near-life-size proportions (yet rendered flawlessly by Italian ceramicists Koons hired to execute the piece), the performer and his pet, wearing matching gold band uniforms, recline in a pose from classical sculpture. Bubbles is nestled in Jackson's lap; their limbs are confused to the point that one of the chimp's legs could easily be mistaken for a third arm of the singer. The pair is instantly recognizable and disturbingly beautiful. The use of a snow-white glaze for their faces and an excess of makeup -- in place of genuine facial expression -- invite questions about celebrity, gender, race, and image making.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

SF MOMA was having a retrospective show -- they had brought stuff out of their archives, including a whole lot of great prints by my favorite photogs.

I had completely forgotten about William A. Garnett who I held in such high regard back in the 1960's. Garnett's shots from airplanes are stunning -- and amazingly graphic.

Garnett's print (((above))) is "Cultivation near Lockwood, California, 1953.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Well, what can I say about Roy Lichtenstein other than he, and those like Andy Warhol, really "DID IT". Smack dab. Case closed. Turn off the lights.

CLICK for a better image of Roy Lichtenstein's "dot painting" the young lady was inspecting.

CLICK for two Roy Lichtenstein paintings on today's "DailyDuo".

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Your comments are invited and welcome.


Marvin said...

Koon's "calling attention to society's obsession with celebrity" seems a case of pointing out the obvious to me, but I'm biased since I've never appreciated Michael Jackson's talents.

Great shot of the "cookie jar" nonetheless.

photowannabe said...

I'd rather have the cookies from that huge "cookie jar" than the figure of MJ. Very interesting artwork though.
I guess I really don't get much modern art.
My bad!!

Brad said...

Heh... It always creeps me out whenever I see Koons' MJ and Bubbles!

AphotoAday said...

THANKS MARVIN, PHOTOWANNABE SUE, AND BRAD -- Yep, my first impression was shock and horror, but then I realized I needed to become "friends" with the monstrosity-of-a-sculpture or I was going to spend the rest of the day cussing about it.

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