A closer look: Piecing together Play-Doh

A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the intricate construction of Jeff Koons’ monumental masterpiece — offered on 17 May in New York

In 2014 Jeff Koons debuted his massive sculpture, Play-Doh, one of the largest and most complex works from the Celebration  series he had begun in the mid-1990s. The piece, which took two decades to complete, instantly became an icon of contemporary art.

Play-Doh’s execution was the result of decades of research and craftsmanship, and the contributions of scientists, metallurgists and modellers. Painstakingly constructed out of 27 interlocking sections of aluminium, each fitted on top of the other, Play-Doh  is held together by gravity alone.

Although viewers will never see it — except when the work is taken apart, as shown in this video — Koons painted each of these sections in their entirety. In addition to creating a hidden dimension of intimacy, this artistic decision perfectly encapsulates the extreme attention to detail for which Koons has become renowned.

On 17 May, Play-Doh will be a highlight of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale  at Christie’s in New York.