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Jeff Koons: Born Through Porn (NSFW)

Controversial when first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1990, Jeff KoonsMade in Heaven series is still shocking viewers today. Consisting of large photos printed on canvas, Murano glassworks, and marble sculptures, the series flaunts Koons and his wife at that time, celebrated Italian porn star and politician Ilona Staller (aka La Cicciolina), as a modern-day Adam and Eve, caught in staged moments of carnal foreplay and lustful lovemaking. Referencing a variety of art history sources — from the realist paintings of Courbet and Manet to the fanciful canvases of Fragonard and Boucher — the work pushed the act of portraying sexual relations in art to a new height, or new low, depending on your point of view.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the work’s release, the New York gallery Luxembourg & Dayan has gathered together nine of the unique paintings and a glass sculpture for an exhibition in its stylish Upper East Side townhouse. The show starts out fairly tame with Hand on Breast and Fingers Between Legs on the second floor, but ends on a bolder note with Dirty Ejaculation and Exaltation on the gallery’s upper level.

In her essay for the accompanying catalogue, Guggenheim Museum adjunct curator Alison Gingeras suggests, “In the process of making Made in Heaven from 1989 to 1992, Jeff Koons became Jeff Koons,” while summarizing, “The markers of his current successes — the auction records, his decoration of Frances Legion d’honneur, the glowing magazine profiles — are all legitimized by the sincerity he proved with Made in Heaven. Jeff Koons as we know him today was born through porn.”

Jeff Koons: Made in Heaven Paintings is on view at Luxembourg & Dayan October 6, 2010 through January 21, 2011.

Click through below for a gallery of some of the tamer images in the show.


Jeff Koons, Hand on Breast, 1990, Oil inks silkscreened on canvas, 95.8 x 144.1 inches, Courtesy Luxembourg & Dayan, New York

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