Jeff Koons, Popeye, 2003, oil on canvas,
108 x 84". From the series “Popeye,” 2002–.


“Jeff Koons: Popeye Series”

Serpentine Galleries
Kensington Gardens
July 2–September 13, 2009

Curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Kathryn Rattee

Just in time for Popeye’s eightieth birthday, the Serpentine unveils a survey of Jeff Koons’s work dedicated to the Depression-era spinach guzzler. Although 2008 alone witnessed major Koons shows in Chicago, New York, Berlin, and Versailles, this will be the artist’s first museum exhibition in London and the first comprehensive look at the ongoing “Popeye” series of sculptures and paintings, begun in 2002. The titular sailor stars in but a few of these works, which are more frequently populated by inflatable animals and a bodacious Playboy bunny. While the lustrous, candy-colored icons from “Celebration,” 1994–, may have captured the lion’s share of Koons’s recent public attention, the lesser known “Popeye” series comprises some of his most inventive oil paintings and trompe l’oeil sculptures, which take his abiding preoccupation with the readymade to mind-boggling new heights.