With Help From His Friends, Jeff Koons Takes On the New Museum


Jeff Koons is heading to the New Museum, but it’s not what you might think. Trying his hand as curator, Koons has agreed to organize an exhibition of his friend, Greek industrialist Dakis Joannou’s contemporary art collection. The exhibition will run as a part of a series of shows called “The Imaginary Museum,” Joannou’s being the first of several private contemporary art collections displayed publicly in the entire museum.

The pairing has been a long time coming; Joannou’s a leading European collector in contemporary art, and Koons is a leader of sorts in the contemporary art scene. The two are something of playmates — Joannou claims to have been inspired to collect after falling for Koon’s “Equilibrium Tanks,” and now holds ownership over many of Koon’s seminal peices,”Balloon Dog” and “Michael Jackson and Bubbles” included. Koons has has been sure to return the favor, first by adding the finishing touches to Joannou’s new boat, and again now, in curating the first American showing of his collection at the New Museum.

Giving reason to believe that his curatorial musings could prove as interesting as the art, Koons has said, “I’m sure there are going to be artworks that I will become engaged with and learn from. I can assure you, the show will not revolve around my work.” Joannou’s holdings include pieces from celebrated contemporaries like Urs Fischer, Charles Ray, Kiki Smith, Cai Guo-Qiang and Kara Walker; with materials like this to work with, we imagine that Koons won’t have time to miss his mylar moldings.

The big question being: How much of his own work will he choose to display?

And so it seems, at its worst, Koons will splash his naysayers with more vanity yet. And at its best? His stab at the meta-art of self-curating could be just what he needs to stave off these crass callers and think beyond his own legacy.