The Gazing Ball Series by Jeff Koons Reconsiders the Classics

Home / Design & Art / The Gazing Ball Series by Jeff Koons Reconsiders the Classics

The Gazing Ball imagined by artist Jeff Koons is a crystal ball to go back in time. This ball’s meticulous design reveals the arrival of design into the daily lives of families in American suburbs starting in the 60s. It’s there that Jeff Koons discovered it for the first time – the artist retained the kitsch aesthetics from his childhood spent in rural Pennsylvania. The blue ball is borrowed from the exterior decorations of the artist’s home state, where they were often found in yards. In 2012, Koons made it a globe reflecting blown glass in a blue so deep that it causes one to reflect.

Delicately placed on strategic points for the eye, on the bodies of ancient statues that are identically reproduced or at the heart of paintings that are no less iconic, the Gazing Ball is made to think of the heritage of humanity’s high points. The very first major exhibit of the Gazing Ball in the David Zwirner Gallery in New York turned the art world upside down. By notably collaborating with casting workshops in the Louvre and the Staatliche Mussen in Berlin, Koons surrounded himself with casting and stone-working experts capable of copying great masterpieces. This glass ball gives an artistic dimension to the copies: on the shoulders of Hercules, on Silenus carrying the young Dionysus, or on the knee of the Faun Barberini, these Gazing Balls reflect their environment, as it’s the visitor’s eye that make it a work of art.

Koons says: “I’ve been interested in ’spectatorship’ for a while, a concept that’s owed to Austrian art historian Alois Rigel. Approximately it means that when an artist paints a painting or produces a sculpture, his work isn’t finished before a spectator, an audience, reacts to it.” On the pieces in the exhibit, he adds: “When you look at the sculptures, you can see yourself inside the reflective globes. Artists sometimes include mirrors in their work, but they don’t think of the overall ensemble so the audience finds themselves reflected on the arm or the chest of a statue.” This is when preconceived notions of the artistic field started falling, withs Jeff Koons making the audience actively participate in their primary function: that of designating what art is by accepting to see it as such.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.