chicago

Jeff Koons

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

Jeff Koons’ work maintains an ambiguous position in relation to American consumer culture: a position of both confirmation and critique. Koons claims references, on one hand, to political issues of class and social responsibility, and on the other, to poetic metaphors for emotional and physical states, but his self-proclaimed determination “to find total liberation in the mainstream” leads to the privileging of the work’s status as self-conscious commodity. The artist’s articulate explanations—offered on videotape in the gallery’s downstairs orientation space—surround each piece like gift wrap, ensuring the work’s open-armed reception by an art world eager to meet an intellectual challenge. The result, in this case, is work with a perfect pedigree but little potential for engagement beyond the bounds of its self-defined terms. There is no room left for the audience; its position is too

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