• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7602

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

    30 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 50

    Jeff Koons (b. 1955)

    Find a Quiet Table

    Price Realised  


    Jeff Koons (b. 1955)
    Find a Quiet Table
    oil inks on canvas
    68 5/8 x 48in. (174.3 x 121.9cm.)
    Executed in 1986, this work is number one from an edition of two plus one artist proof

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Forming a part of Jeff Koons' Luxury and Degradation series, Find a Quiet Table presents the viewer with a reconstructed ad for Frangelico, an expensive liquor. A Duchampian process has been enacted with distinctly Koonsian glee. There is a hint of High Art about this mass media image: the warm, brown ripples of the image have an abstract quality that could be seen to recall the pleats in one of Manzoni's Achromes or even one of the bandaged works of Koons' former teacher, Salvatore Scarpitta. But through the insistent presence of the writing-- the slogan and the logo-- Koons refuses to allow the viewer just to admire its formal qualities or shy away from the figurative, and indeed commercial, origins of the picture.

    Discussing Find a Quiet Table and the other post-Pop pictures from this series, Koons explained he had:

    '[...] found all these liquor ads that were targeted to drinking audiences at different income levels: at like a $10,000 income level, which is the lowest level, targeting people for beer and cheap liquor, up to the highest, at $45,000 and up, targeting people for Frangelico. So I had these images made into paintings. It's very clear in these liquor advertisements that the more money you make, the more abstraction that's laid on you. In this series, I was telling people not to give up their economic power-- that this pursuit of luxury was a form of degradation and not to get debased by it but to maintain their economic power. I was really telling people to try to protect themselves from debasement' (Koons, 2000, quoted in D. Sylvester, Interviews with American Artists, London, 2002, p. 340).

    By illustrating the strange mechanics and trickery of the advertising world, showing the odd economics that result in different visual languages being used to target different slices of society, Koons is encouraging his viewers to break free from this cynical and self-perpetuating system, to shed the chains of habit and the constraints of taste, to be aware of the sop to consumer vanity of the implied compliment of an oblique ad that pretends to rely upon the sophistication and intelligence of its viewer. Koons shows that by pandering to the campaigns of the advertisers, the viewer has become complicit in an act of societal oppression; through a taste for luxury, the Frangelico drinker is tainted by degradation, while the exploited drinkers of lower-end products are degraded in another way. Koons has highjacked an ad for spirits in a quest to save the viewer's spirit. He has turned the arsenal of the arch-manipulators of mass media and popular culture against them. In the glowing, iconic intensity of Find a Quiet Table, Koons takes the Frangelico image, treats it with irony, and then emerges with sincerity, offering salvation, exposing the machinations of the world of the ad, highlighting the effects of such a system and encouraging us to escape it.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    International With Monument Gallery, New York.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1986.

    Pre-Lot Text



    R. Smith, 'Rituals of Consumption' in Art in America, New York 1988 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 169).
    J. Koons & R. Rosenblum, The Jeff Koons Handbook, London 1992, p. 156.
    A. Muthesius, Jeff Koons, Cologne 1992, pl. 23 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 85).
    Jeff Koons, Picture, 1980-2002, exh. cat., Bielefeld, Kunsthalle, 2002 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 51).
    H. W. Holzwarth, Jeff Koons, Cologne 2008 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 205).