The iconic Balloon Swan (Yellow), rendered in a bright, joyful yellow on a truly monumental twelve-foot scale, is an exemplary sculpture from one of the today’s most important and influential artists, Jeff Koons. A flawless gleaming replica – enlarged, enhanced, and mirror-polished – of a swan balloon animal an overjoyed child might receive at a party, Balloon Swan (Yellow) is a knotted totem of joy. Koons characteristically takes a swan – an elegant, intimidating creature, much like the beast of art history in which the bird so frequently features – and shapes it into a playful and accessible form: a universal visual delight formed by the artist’s unparalleled craftsmanship and distinctive optimistic ideology.
Koons’s exacting process for making sculptures such as Balloon Swan (Yellow) is evident in the work itself. The artist developed and honed the idea for the sculpture over years of research, modelling, computer rendering, polishing, and lacquering. To ensure that the sculpture perfectly reproduced a balloon swan, Koons took Computed Tomography (CT) scans of the real-life balloon toys. In the process, he repeatedly destroyed what didn’t meet his exceedingly high standards, demonstrating a level of investment in the quality of his craft that sets him apart from his peers. His enlargements consist of dozens of individual parts to create the sense of perfection. For Koons it is a feeling of ‘responsibility to the viewer, and I want the viewer to have a sense of trust. Art is communication, it’s dialogue—to have this exchange of respect for each other.’
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