Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jeff Koons on the Roof

Saturday night, Wright and I enjoyed one of our favorite New York summer pastimes - drinks on the roof of the Met with friends. If you haven't been up there, I'd highly recommend it. They have it open during most Museum hours but I think it is best enjoyed with a Corona while the sun is setting. They set up a bar on Friday and Saturday evenings, 5:30-8:30.

The real show-stealer is the view. Set right in Central Park, the Met's view is a unique look at the city scape from the tops of the trees. Scanning out in all directions, you are surrounded by trees but, in true New York fashion, the tree line is then surrounded by skyscrapers. My art professor, Dean Dass, likens it to the opposite of "The Clearing" - a theory that insists humans have cleared a space to live in, carved out of the natural world. Alas, Central Park encompasses, counterintuitively, a space we've carved out of our world, for nature to live in. No matter your theory, however, Central Park is beautiful, especially from this view.

Last summer, the Roof featured a show of Frank Stella's sculptures. Though I am a fan of his early paintings, the allure of his work heads downhill quickly for me, and I wasn't a huge fan of the large-scale metal sculptures. This summer, however, they've installed three of Jeff Koons' sculptures--Balloon Dog (Yellow), Coloring Book, and Sacred Heart (Red/Gold). They are fantastic. Though Koons tends to be somewhat overrated, his art practice is fascinating. He employees hundreds in a factory, churning out large-scale sculptures like these, as well as smaller sculptures and paintings. His work mainly relies on imagery from pop culture--more vibrant and plastic than Warhol's images, though. His sculptures like these ones are certainly my favorite of his works.

These three pieces take small childhood schemas into large scale. Balloon Dog, which quickly takes the cake in this show, is an unbelievably well-done rendition of a balloon dog, but about 10 feet tall, and made entirely of metal. Seeing the piece on the roof was fantastic--but I do have to admit that I've seen a better version (He's made a few, in different colors). When I was in Venice two years ago, there was a contemporary art exhibit at the Palazzo Grassi, on the Grand Canal, and they placed one of Koons' Balloon Dogs right out on the water. It was shocking in comparison to the Venetian palaces that served as its background - absolutely fantastic!

Up on the roof, our conversation tended towards the Coloring Book piece the most, however. I'd never seen one of these before - it's an extremely tall, flat, reflective piece of metal with colored splotches on it. What caught our attention was the reflection--it was set up to create this mysterious illusion that it was see through, but really it was just a reflection. Gus finally figured out that it had to do with the white pedestal it was on, since its edge lined up with the reflection of its edge, making you think it kept going behind the sculpture.

The exhibit was great and I'm looking forward to spending more nights up there, particularly since the sculptures are so great this year. Definitely worth visiting!

For more information on the exhibit, and the Met's Roof, visit For more information on Jeff Koons, I'd recommend reading a fantastic Profile that the New Yorker did in April, 2007. The abstract, and images, can be found at


  1. Calvine, another great day at the Met! You should put up the real pictures on your know, like the one that's your new facebook picture!

    Love ya

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