The American artist Jeff Koons caused a stir when he exhibited his works in the halls and grounds of the French King’s Chateau at Versailles in 2008. Koons bet those fabulous surroundings would add to the charisma of his own work. Judging by the response for and against, he was right.
We saw another attempt by Koons to mash history with his own often historically charged work at the Liebieghaus Sculpture collection in Frankfurt. At the same time Koons introduced us to an outstanding historical collection of sculpture. Koons was certainly bold inserting himself into this rich mixture.
In the event the combination was entertaining (Koons pairing his life-threatening bronze aqualung with an armless, legless and headless roman torso), instructive (Koons's glazed porcelain Woman in tub created by craftspeople in a direct line of descent from those who made the sixteenth century glazed wall panel nearby), head-turning (Koons's famous porcelain sculpture of his ex-wife hugging a Pink Panther soft toy across the corridor from a nineteenth century marble sculpture of Dionysus' wife Ariadne sitting on a Panther) and heartbreaking (Buster Keaton aboard his wooden donkey riding away from a stunning polychromed crucified Christ).
Then there were pieces not so easily distinguished from each other like the Koons bust of Louis XIV alongside a marble bust of the Pope he helped elect, Alexander VIII. And when we saw the circular flower gardens with wicker borders set into the lawns of the Liebieghaus the Koons / not-a-Koons game became irresistible .
Images top to bottom left to right: Koons, not, not, Koons, not, not, Koons, not, Koons