Jeff Koons' "Banality" series from 1988 "is pervaded with hints of the rococo. This eighteenth-century style exalted curlicues and the bizarre, exaggeration and charm, seductiveness and grace, all characteristics that are reiterated in Koons' contemporary kitsch" (D. Salvoni, "Jeff Koons's Poetics of Class," Jeff Koons, San Francisco, 1992, p. 20). Koons's appropriation of kitsch can be, for some, a shocking rupture in aesthetic form, a cynical transformation of high art into ersatz signs whose meaning is dependent upon an ironic context and the viewer's seduction. In Koons' oeuvre, dime-store toys and dolls, the likes of carnival prizes, are commissioned as grand-scale reproductions in the finest porcelain or Murano glass. The resulting artwork teases the fine line between the perceived banal tastes of the bourgeoisie and the prejudices of the intellectual elite, encouraging a dialogue between the two. At the same time, the viewer is confronted with the relationship between, and the commodification of, both the fine art object and the mass-marketed tchotchke.
Amore, a work from the "Banality" series, appears to be a construction of innocent, cliched "love," presented in the guise of a porcelain reproduction of a plush yellow teddy bear with a baby doll's smooth face. Wearing an "I You" pin, a lacy bib with the word "amore" emblazened in red and surrounded by adorable trinkets, the bear-baby sits on a gilded pedestal with arms outstretched to the viewer, craving love. Amore is a trophy of cuteness, a souvenir of commercialized sentiment while at the same time synonomous with the artist, who craves critical acclaim, and the aesthete who craves and accumulates objets d'art. Amore is both self-effacing and self-righteous; simultaneously unapologetic kitsch and a critical piece of Post-Modern art. As with many of Koons' works, Amore is at once visually comforting and challenging, the wit of his syrupy-sweet animal balancing the "narcissism...of the perfect commercial vehicle" (B. Wallis, "We Don't Need Another Hero: Aspects of the Critical Reception of the Work of Jeff Koons," ibid, p. 30).