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Jeff Koons in Florence

On next September, 25 it will start In Florence, an exhibition program with the leading contemporary artists in dialogue with the best Reinassance artworks. The first artist invited to meet Florence is the best known American artist Jeff Koons.

At Palazzo Vecchio in Sala dei Gigli we shall find Watching Ball (Barberini Faun) from the Gazing Ball series created by the artist in 2013. In this series there are some famous sculptures from the Greco- Roman period above which the artist has added in a position of precarious balance a bright blue ball with a mirrored surface. A conceptual gesture to divert the attention of the spectator from the admiration of the classic artworks symbols of pure perfection to the environment of our time and the spectator itself. The ball must be read as a symbol of archetypical perfection of the universe but such idealism is contradicted by the risky position where the spherical object is located: it is located on the left thigh of the young Faun and the surface reflects the transient, the world of life.

Jeff Koons explains the sense of his work with these words: "I thought about Gazing Ball watching for many years spheres of this kind. I wanted to affirm the peremptory and the generosity of the mirror surface and the joy that trigger balls like these. The Gazing Ball series is based on transcendence. The awareness of own mortality is an abstract thought and from this discovery we start to have a greater awareness of the outside world, our families, the community, establishing a broader dialogue with humanity beyond the present". Koons discovered the mirrored glass balls with their incantatory power during his childhood home in Pennsylvania. Because of their extreme fragility the glass balls are connected to the ephemeral duration of human life and with reference to this Jeff Koons said “the series called Gazing Ball has on its basis the "the philosopher eyes" coming to transcendence through the senses and then direct our vision to eternity through the pure form and the idea".

The decision to install the Faun in the Sala dei Gigli, a luxurious environment decorated by Domenico Ghirlandaio starts from the desire to create a dialogue between the language of the Renaissance and the contemporary one. The hall also houses the original bronze of Giuditta e Oloferne by Donatello in front of the masterpiece of Donatello we shall find the Barberini Faun -in the revised version of Koons- in its provocative pose. The show of the nude with his genitals on display seems to cause the same Judith punishing the excesses lewd, the sexual perdition as symbolizing the bacchanalia carved in bas-relief on the base.

Other meanings will emerge in Piazza della Signoria just off the marble copy of David by Michelangelo. Here it will be exposed one of the most famous sculptures by Jeff Koons Pluto and Proserpina (2010-2013) a monumental artwork in chrome gold stainless steel. Dazzling presence, Koons’ artwork will capture the eyes of citizens and tourists.

The exhibition will be visible from September 26 to December 28, 2015. It starts from a proposal by Fabrizio Moretti and is curated by Sergio Risaliti. Sponsored by the City of Florence, it is organized by Mus. with the support of the Florence Chamber of Commerce, Galleria Moretti and David Zwirner with the collaboration of the Biennale Internazionale di Antiquariato di Firenze.

Photo credit: Jeff Koons (2013), Gazing Ball (Barberini Faun), plaster and glass, 70 x 48 x 54 7/8 inches, 177.8 x 121.9 x 139.4 cm. © Jeff Koons

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