Exhibition – ‘Popeye’ @ The Serpentine Gallery (to 13 Sept)

January 1, 2009toSeptember 13, 2009


The Serpentine Gallery presents an exhibition of the work of the celebrated American artist Jeff Koons, his first major exhibition in a public gallery in England.

The exhibition presents paintings and sculptures from Koon’s Popeye series

The works incorporate some of Koons’s signature ideas and motifs, including surreal combinations of everyday objects, cartoon imagery, art-historical references and children’s toys.

In summary:

  • The sculptures show Koons’s interest in casting inflatable toys.
  • Inflatables typically used by children in a swimming pool are cast in aluminium, their surfaces painted to bear an uncanny resemblance to the original objects.
  • The paintings are complex and layered compositions that combine disparate images both found and created by Koons, including images of the sculptures in the series.
  • The immediately recognisable figures of Popeye and Olive Oyl are central in the series and appear in several prominent works within the exhibition.
  • One of the most iconic American comicstrip characters, Popeye was conceived 80 years ago this year in 1929 when the Great Depression was taking hold. In Popeye’s early years, the cartoon addressed the hardships and injustices of the time and, in this current period of economic recession, he is a fitting character to rediscover and explore.

acrobatretKoons has used inflatables in his work since the late 1970s; one of his most iconic sculptures, Rabbit, 1986, is an inflatable bunny rendered in reflective stainless steel. He has also made sculptures on a spectacular scale inspired by inflatables, including works from his monumental Celebration series.

Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1955. His work has been widely exhibited internationally and his most recent solo exhibitions include presentations at the Château de Versailles, France; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, all in 2008. Koons lives and works in New York.

Serpentine Gallery is one of London’s best-loved galleries for modern and contemporary art.

Open daily, 10am – 6pm Admission free

Serpentine Gallery
Kensington Gardens
London W2 3XA
T 020 7402 6075
F 020 7402 4103


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