LONDON.- Christie's has announced that it will offer Jeff Koon's Ballon Flower (Magenta) at its Post War and Contemporary Art acution on June 30 in London. The sculpture is estimated in the region of £12 million. This work is one of five unique versions: Magenta, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Red and was executed between 1995 and 1999.
The sculpture comes from the Howard and Cindy Rachofskys collection of modern and contemporary art in Dallas. "It's the most difficult decision I've ever made about a work of art," says Mr. Rachofsky to the Dallas Morning News, who purchased it in 1998 and installed it in the center of the pond on the north end of his Preston Hollow estate. "We came to terms with the idea that to be able to effectively develop the collection in our areas of primary interest American minimalism, Italian postwar art and German painting we would let this piece go. It presents opportunities to advance the collection in ways we would not otherwise have been able to achieve."
The motifs for the series of large-format sculptures and paintings called "Celebration" seem, like "Balloon Flowers", to have been taken from children's books or fairy-tales, or even from a gift catalogue. They are familiar, at least, there is nothing that is completely strange. But no matter how spontaneous and amusing the recognition experience might be, whether the object comes from the world of things or the world of the imagination, it is not something we have seen before.
On the contrary, it confronts us as an image in the image and as a sculpture in the space. The Balloon Flower consists of seven elements: six large blossom- or balloon-like shapes of various sizes, and one bar that can be taken as a flower stem. They are all aglow in the radiance of a triumphant blue, so that they can see themselves and the world around them reflected. That is the truly appealing thing about the Balloon Flower: it attracts people to look at it, and then reflects them back at themselves.
The Balloon Flower was always intended for a public place. The public has become part of Jeff Koons' work - as a medium. A new generation of artists emerged in about 1980. They proceeded, strategically and unhesitatingly, to celebrate mundaneness and mass media production as propagated two decades before by Pop Art.
This generation, which as well as Koons included artists like Richard Prince, Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler and Haim Steinbach, went even further than their predecessors. They produced a cynical mixture of kitsch and aesthetics, seduction strategies and ambush tactics - an aggressive and uncompromising exploitation of the language of Pop and its marketing.
Jeff Koons amazed the art world at his first one-man show in the New York New Museum of Contemporary Art in 1980 by showing three self-contained work groups that seemed like the product range from a newly established trading chain: "Inflatables", "The Pre-New" and "The New". The first group consists of inflatable rubber flowers and toys, placed on mirror plinths that infinitely multiply the blown-up emptiness of the objects.
In "The Pre-New", Koons presents everyday objects mounted on plastic fluorescent tubes. And in "The New", he takes up Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades from the early years of the century by showing brand-new cleaning appliances in sterile illuminated showcases. "I think", says Koons, "that ordinariness is the very thing that can save us today. Ordinariness is one of the most important resources we have at our disposal. It is a great seducer, as it works on our feelings subliminally. That is the degrading thing - because we are not threatened by it."