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MILESTONES

1986: Jeff Koons’s Rabbit

Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986, stainless steel, 41 x 19 x 12."


WHEN I FIRST SAW RABBIT, in the “neo-geo” group show at Sonnabend in 1986, I was dumbstruck. It seemed to me instantly, by involuntary reflex—and still does by long reflection—that this bunny is one of those very rare hits at the exact center of the target. It’s a piece where a ton of contradictions (about the artist, about the time) are fused with shocking, deadpan economy into an unforgettable ingot. I can unpack this sculpture endlessly without ever dulling the bewilderments—hilarious and outrageous but chilling and cynical, familiar but also from Mars—that caused that first frisson.

Rabbit is now so widely known through photographs—and is so effective as a logolike image—that one can easily forget how imposing it is as a sculptural object. The process of casting heated the air inside the inflatable original, so that each volume of the cast swells outward with an impossibly

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