Is Jeff Koons America’s Greatest Living Artist?

Before you storm off to the comments section over that headline, stop a moment to consider that no matter where you personally rank Jeff Koons, a number of Europeans seem to think he’s America’s greatest. The subject of overlapping blockbusters in Frankfurt, Germany and the Basel suburb of Riehan in Switzerland — a full two years before he gets a grand stateside retrospective, which will span nearly every floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York — the enigmatic Koons is enjoying a moment of Old World splendor, one that even surpasses his dynamic display at the Palace of Versailles, outside of Paris, back in 2008.

Long a favorite of top galleries and mega-art-collectors, Koons is a perfectionist, who creates exquisitely crafted paintings and sculptures that reference ready-made objects — ranging from virginal vacuums displayed over bright lights and celebrities cast in ceramic or carved in wood to inflatable figures beautifully blown-up in shimmering steel and cartoon characters surrealistically captured in paint. With a goal making art accessible to everyone, Koons succeeds — with a little help from his friends — in turning Basel’s Beyeler Foundation and Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle and the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung into pop culture paradises, chock full of whimsical pieces, through the rest of the summer. Click through to view a whopping selection of our favorite works from all three venues.

Jeff Koons, Stacked, 1988. Polychromed wood, 154.9 x 134.6 x 78.7 cm, Private collection © Jeff Koons. Photo: Jeff Koons Studio / Jim Strong, New York. (On view at the Beyeler Foundation)