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Laura Owens

Jeff Koons, Lobster (detail), 2003, polychromed aluminum, steel chain, 57 7/8 × 37 × 17 1/8". From the series “Popeye,” 2002–

I HAVE ALWAYS been stunned by the way my eyes move across the surface of a work by Jeff Koons without ever finding a point to stop. I once met a beyond-good-looking, possibly reworked (it was that good), hypersymmetrical male model, and the experience was similar. There was nothing for your eye to hang on to, no mole or misaligned tooth. It was like passing through a visual cloud of perfume. I kept thinking about how hard it is to erase all the details, for no one part of the whole to be odd or noticed. Maybe it is the precision detailing, the thousand hours of labor and scrutiny that go into each pixel of a Koons piece, guaranteeing that the process will never fail. He will make a compelling object . . . whether we like it or not.

Walking into the Whitney retrospective, I didn’t expect to find myself caught, at times, on the surface of things—but I did. I fell into the texture

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