To celebrate Valentine's Day, today's "Feel Art Again" features two love-themed works of art—"Hanging Heart" (left) and "Sacred Heart" (right)—by Jeff Koons. Koons, who was requested by reader Corrine, is one of the most famous artists today, a fame that was only boosted when "Hanging Heart" sold for a record $23.6 million in 2007.
1. Jeff Koons has stated that his main interest as an artist is "the morality of what it means to be an artist, with what art means to [him], how it defines [his] life"¦" Like Dale Chihuly, though, Koons is contributing to the debate over what it means to be an artist, as Koons himself has said he "is not physically involved in the production" of his art. Instead, he employs about 50 to 95 people in his studio.
2. In 1997, members of a Basque separatist group attempted to plant 12 grenade-filled flowerpots in Koons' "Puppy," a 43-foot-tall topiary sculpture of a terrier, before the dedication at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. The police were able to foil the plot, but one officer, Jose MarÃa Aguirre, was shot in the turmoil.
3. Koons has been accused of being "nothing more than an exhibitionist and shock artist." One of his most shocking series of work is "Made in Heaven," a set of sculpture, photography, and paintings from the early "˜90s featuring him and his then-wife, ex-porn star Cicciolina. The works featured Koons and his wife, "the contemporary Adam and Eve," in pornographic images.
4. According to some reports, Koons is also skilled in self-promotion. In addition to the "Made in Heaven" series starring himself, he's also written a book about himself and his work entitled "The Jeff Koons Handbook." He supposedly has employed an image consultant, placed advertisements of himself in international art magazines, and has even given interviews in which he refers to himself in the third person.
5. In 2008, Koons appeared for the first time in a feature film, "Milk," in a minor role as state assemblyman Art Agnos.
Larger versions of "Hanging Heart" (alternate view here) and "Sacred Heart" are available. Fans should check out Koons' web site; Newsweek's video on "Hanging Heart;" the Koons collections from The New Yorker, the Broad Art Foundation, and The New York Times; Koons discussing "Celebration" at the Met and discussing "Balloon Flower" at 7 WTC; the Koons designed yacht; and the Koons iGoogle themes. "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at email@example.com with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists.