Jeff Koons’s self-professed pursuit of perfection is now legendary. But just what kind of perfection is at stake seems to keep changing. And just how hyperbolically high that level of perfection is today is not widely appreciated—least of all in the realm of technology and fabrication. Indeed, over the course of his career, Koons has increasingly amped up the technological ambition and complexity of his production, so that his fabrication standards now may easily—and incredibly—exceed those of advanced industry, whether aerospace or military. Today, nearly one hundred and fifty employees spend countless man-hours powering the Koons studio: researching, coding, rendering, painting, polishing. Yet both the effort and the outcome remain mysterious, shrouded in secrecy and cloaked by impossibly shiny surfaces and impeccably applied paint. What type of thing, exactly, is Koons making now?
This talk explores the ambitious fabrication technologies behind Koons’s work, which are at the forefront of new kinds of industrial and digital production—and which are redefining the very concepts of standardization and customization, likeness and singularity.
Michelle Kuo is the editor in chief of Artforum, for which she helmed the 50th anniversary issue of the magazine as well as special issues on collaboration, the status of contemporary painting, and art, environment, and risk. She is the author of numerous publications, including essays on the work of Robert Rauschenberg, Fluxus, Le Corbusier, and Jeff Koons; has lectured widely on modern and contemporary art at institutions including the Centre Pompidou and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing; delivered the International Association of Art Critics’ Distinguished Lecture in 2012; and contributes to publications such as October and The Art Bulletin. Kuo is also a PhD candidate at Harvard University in history of art and architecture, writing a dissertation on the group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T). In 2004 she co-curated the exhibition “Le Corbusier and the Synthesis of the Arts” at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard, and from 2005-2007 she was the Wyeth Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art.