Just in Time for Whitney Retrospective, H&M Becomes Jeff Koons’s Dog Park

by Hrag Vartanian on June 13, 2014

The limited-edition Koons handbag will sell for $49.95 at H&M. (Image by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

The limited-edition Koons handbag will sell for $49.95 at H&M. Apologies to Richard Jackson. (image by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Oh look, another major retailer tie-in for a major museum show. Yes, the upcoming Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum has a corporate fashion deal, with a balloon-dog emblazoned handbag available for $49.95 at select locations starting July 17 — corresponding with the opening of the world’s largest H&M store in Midtown Manhattan.

(image via wwd)

Koons on H&M rendering (image via wwd)

Koons will be collaborating with the retail giant both on merchandise and the façade for their new location, which they plan to make into an upscale version of their regular retail spaces: green and white marble, herringbone woodwork, and concierge service.

The timing of the Koons retrospective has rubbed some people the wrong way, particularly after the 2014 Whitney Biennial, where questions of diversity and white supremacy were raised throughout the run of the exhibition.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 2.37.10 PM

I, for one, am pleased with the new Koons bags. All the douchebags of the art world will be easier to spot at art fairs and events. People will pretend they are porting the bags ironically, but we’ll all know better.

koons-vf-320The Koons media blitz has begun, and a puffed-up Vanity Fair profile on the artist (they did another one back in 2001) features a ridiculous photo of him working out in the buff. With shades of shirtless Vladimir Putin, the image undoubtedly is attempting to portray a virile artist, even if his art has been flaccid and overinflated for years.

Should we expect any surprises from the Koons show? No.

I’ll give the last word to critic John Yau, who perfectly encapsulated the Koons mentality in these pages one year ago:

When he is on, Koons has his finger to the pulse of the audience whose adulations he hungers after, as ravenous as the phallic nozzle of the vacuum cleaner he encased in Plexiglas. He is a cultural figure “whose faults,” as Baudelaire said of the then-popular, obsessively scrupulous Ernest Meissonier, are “well attuned to the faults of the masses that have singularly assisted his popularity.”

Let them have handbags!

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  • Monia-Maja Labidi

    Loved this article!! :D

  • Robert Cicetti

    “With shades of shirtless Vladimir Putin,” and that guy who spams my Facebook with CrossFit® evangelism. Funny that the artist known for barely picking up a paintbrush is also so buff. Can’t wait for the Koons and Equinox tie-in.

    • Daniel Luna

      You sound so bitter.

      • Guest

        Astute observation, troll.

  • Puzlcult

    The Koons retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago was enjoyable. The work was allowed to breathe in those tall, naturally lit galleries.

  • Perry Vasquez

    The Avant-garde luvs Jeff Koons.

  • Daniel Luna

    Idk.. being against large scale commercial art colaborations seems like such a weird perspective. I mean this guy is building and maintaining a brand, empire, commercial project. Regardless of the aesthetic choices choices regarding the bags, it seems really fashionable in America to hate on success of artists in the big world. I guess we should always limit our praise to the artist who are humble, small scale, and virtuous.

    • Kim Matthews

      No, this actually is personal. This is the guy who sued a small business claiming the rights to all balloon dog products. It’s not that he’s rich; it’s that he’s a tool.

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