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    Sale 7704

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

    11 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 25

    Jeff Koons (b. 1955)

    Jim Beam - Log Car

    Price Realised  


    Jeff Koons (b. 1955)
    Jim Beam - Log Car
    stainless steel and bourbon
    7¾ x 14¼ x 6½in. (19.7 x 36.2 x 16.5cm.)
    Executed in 1986, this work is number three from an edition of three plus one artist proof

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    Executed in 1986, Jim Beam - Log Car forms part of Jeff Koons' celebrated Luxury and Degradation series. In this, Koons explored and exposed the strange hierarchies by which alcohol advertising aimed at seducing various strata of society and, in particular, salary into buying their products. The series consisted of a range of sculptures, as well as paintings that meticulously reproduced various liquor ads. Discussing the genesis of the sculptures based on the train, Koons explained:

    'It was the first time I'd worked with stainless steel. I liked its proletarian quality, pots and pans are made out of it. I was walking down the street and saw this ceramic train filled with Jim Beam and I thought: 'This would be a great ready-made.' So I cast it and went back to the company and had it filled with bourbon and sealed with the tax stamp. Because, for me, the bourbon was the soul and the tax-stamp seal was like the interface to the soul. It was about creating something that you'd desire. I wanted to create work that people would be attracted to' (Koons, 2000, quoted in D. Sylvester, Interviews with American Artists, London, 2002, p. 340).

    The train, both as a Jim Beam commemorative product and in its reincarnation as Koons' gleaming, proletarian reliquary, taps into the history, mythology and narrative of the creation of the United States. It evokes notions of industry, of pioneering exploration, of lumberjacks, perhaps even of log cabins, of a world of honest labourers. In taking this as his source, Koons is inscrutable in his judgement: is he ironising this notion of Americana, highlighting the distance between the States then and the States now, or is he celebrating it? This shining trophy critiques the cynical way in which these myths have been manipulated in order to 'degrade', in order to convince people to buy into them by buying. And yet at the same time, Koons has unashamedly created an artwork that is playful, toy-like, overtly desirable, openly encouraging people to break down their old notions of taste and restraint and to indulge themselves, setting alight a revolution and disrupting the old hierarchies. As he has explained, 'The artworld uses taste as a form of segregation. I was trying to make a body of work that anybody could enjoy' (Koons, quoted in A. Muthesius, Jeff Koons, Cologne, 1992, p. 30).

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


    Sonnabend Gallery, New York.
    Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    New York in View, exh. cat., Munich, Kunstverein, 1988 (another from the edition illustrated, unpaged).
    A. Muthesius, Jeff Koons, Cologne 1992, no. 6 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 73).
    Jeff Koons: A Survey 1981-1994, exh. cat., London, Anthony d'Offay Gallery, 1994 (another from the edition illustrated).
    H. W. Holzwarth, Jeff Koons, Cologne 2007 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 199).


    Lausanne, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Jeff Koons: Made in Heaven, 1992.