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Broad Museum renderings by Diller Scofidio + Renfro that were released this week and features a cute balloon dog on a merchandise table.

Everyone — except Jeff Koons and his lawyers (maybe even his dealers) — knows the idea of trademarking the “balloon dog” is pretty ridiculous. Just to hammer home my point I thought it would be fun to collect all my favorite balloon dog-related merchandise and images on the web. Some of these may pre-date Koons’s own version and some of them are pretty darn awesome.

If I was a connoisseur of balloon dogs (such a thing must exist, right?) I would say the bookend does not have the bow-legged gait of the Koons version, and the ears don’t show the same curvature either. I think the bookend falls into the category of an original interpretation of a public domain idea/object.

Why does Koons want to assert his copyright with an object that doesn’t look very much like his version? I’m guessing it is because he wants to cash in on merchandise, I mean, was it any coincidence the recent Broad Museum rendering had balloon dog souvenirs? The writing is on the wall … oh wait, let’s not forget the Banksy wall (with a balloon dog) that was grabbed by LA’s Ace Gallery earlier this year.

One of our very astute commentersHyperallergic’s own Janelle Grace made a great point about the silliness of the Koons lawsuit:

I mean, the most obnoxious thing about Koons’s suit is that he fails to see how it’s taking away from the whole point of his own piece. If balloon dogs weren’t so easily recognizable and reproducible, if they weren’t so commonplace and lowbrow, his shiny gigantic ones would have no meaning, power, or existence. The arrogance is mind-boggling.

Also, former Hyperallergic intern Dylan Schenker has created a fun video “Jeff Koons vs. Balloon Dog” in which a “balloon dog rejects assertions made by Koons that he represents them.” 🙂

And if you want to learn how to make your own balloon dog, watch this video.

And Park Life, the store that received the cease-and-desist letter also has a funny message of their page featuring the balloon dog bookends.

Image sources: t-shirts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), balloon dog doggie toy, glittery balloon dog necklace, Ted Baker balloon dog cufflinks, balloon dog Christmas ornaments, balloon dog piggy bank, Tu balloon dog necklace, balloon dog charm, sterling silver balloon dog, balloon dog necklace, balloon dog cards (1, 2, 3, 4), Anthropologie display, blow up balloon dog lamp, acrylic balloon dog, balloon dog glass sculpture, balloon dog shoe by Keds, white tee with green balloon dog, balloon dog umbrella & tees, balloon dog brass charm, a scene from the new animated film Despicable Me, a paper dog & balloon dog discuss their fears, “Pneumatic Anatomica” by Moist Production, screen capture of Park Life shop. A special thanks to Dusty Burrito for compiling some of these last year, that site has some additional versions.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

2 replies on “I See Balloon Dogs Everywhere, Shhh Don’t Tell Jeff Koons”

  1. Who actually invented the dog shape for balloon animals anyway? Shouldn’t we consider the original creator too? I agree that trademarking things of this nature is ridiculous. I think that artists just need to be humble, respectful of what ideas have come before, and not try to own or control the art world, because it only exists to defy ownership and control.

  2. Jeff isn’t seeing balloon dogs… he is only seeing dollar signs. Its no surprise, really. After all, look at other careerist hacks whose work is as empty as Paris Hilton’s head… like Schlepard Fairey complaining about the people ripping off his work… that he ripped off from other (often minority) artists and photographers including his Obeyma image… that he even tried to defend in court before finally admitting he just stole someone else’s image for it.

    Whats next? Is Jeff going to sue the NBA for using basketballs? Perhaps he can sue the porn industry for imitating his sculptures! Maybe he can sue pool toy makers! Or maybe he should start to appreciate how much HE has stolen from other designers and artists for his work… which, given how vapid most of it is and how little he has to do with its actual production is as much a product as the vacuum cleaners, aquariums, or basketballs he has used.

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