Jeff Koons’ latest effort at making art can put one in mind of the 2011 Super Bowl commercial for Doritos. The tortilla chip was the main dish in a re-enactment of #Da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper.” Koons’ new work likewise uses famous paintings to sell a product - in this case, Louis Vuitton handbags, which he decorated with reproductions of the Old Masters. As crass as that may sound, he abused the privilege with an additional kick in the heads of artists like Titian, Rubens, Da Vinci, and Fragonard..
He plastered their surnames right on top of their paintings and in oversized letters. So you get a purse, for example, bearing Rubens’ painting “Tiger, Lion and the Leopard Hunt” with his handle spelled out in giant gold block letters that extend over it, interfering with it. You end up with bags made ugly for their billboard air and great art made vulgar.
The way Koons loves art makes Philistines look good,
Koons has long been known to replicate trite things like balloon animals in shiny stainless steel and calling it art. But Old Master art is hardly commonplace. Yet he talks a good game, saying things like his art making is a “humanitarian act.” It’s hard to see anything charitable about appropriating art and decorating handbags with it that sell for upwards of $4,000.
England's notable art critic, Jonathan Jones of the Guardian, sees Koons differently.
By putting the great painting on pocketbooks, he says Koons is “sharing the art he most loves...and he wants other people to see what he sees.” How can anyone see what he sees when the imagery is overlaid with “Keep Off The Grass-like lettering? Jones even classes these bags as a “meditation on the masters.”
Humanity deserves better than Mona Lisa reprinted on leather goods
Jones’ enthusiasm for Koons’ creations seems all the more puzzling when he says, “I can’t think of a simpler way to put great art at the forefront of modern minds But at four grand a pop, such a contention seems ridiculous. The Vuitton product is far from simple and unless those “modern minds” are well-off enough to afford this French brand, the benefit, if there is one, will go to a precious few.
What’s more, these painted purses don’t come across the way Jones sees them - as “heartfelt homages” otherwise Koons wouldn’t have interfered with the views of them with jumbo lettering. Particularly bewildering are Jones’ final words - that by reprinting great paintings on leather goods, Koons is “bravely educating us.” What’s brave about copying other artists’ work onto pricey purses? As if to answer, the New York Times quotes Koons saying that what he was trying to do is celebrate humanity. “I hope somebody that sees the bag can emotionally feel this connectivity.” Don’t look at me.