A fusion of opposites: Cracked Egg (Blue) by Jeff Koons

A feat of technical virtuosity and a centrepiece of the landmark Celebration series, the artist’s mirror-polished stainless-steel sculpture is offered in London on 4 October

Cracked Egg (Blue)  is a centrepiece of Jeff Koons’ sculptural practice. Standing more than one and a half metres high, its cleaved, vibrant blue shell returns our gaze in immaculate, mirror-polished stainless steel.

This feat of technical virtuosity was engineered over a 12-year period between 1994 and 2006, and is a key work in Koons’ landmark Celebration  series, alongside masterpieces such as Balloon Dog  and Tulips. Originally conceived as a small project in 1991, the Celebration series has since developed into Koons’ most elaborate to date, comprising 20 monumental sculptures and 16 large-format oil paintings.

Cracked Egg (Blue)  is one of five Cracked Egg  sculptures from the series, each of which is finished with a unique colour coating in either blue, red, violet, yellow or magenta. Their pristine curves, saw-tooth edges and the near-impossible thinness of the double-sided shell are the culmination of years of intense research and development into the technical demands of its creation.

Jeff Koons (b. 1955), Cracked Egg (Blue). Executed between 1994-2006, this work is one of five unique versions. (ii) 39⅜ x 62⅝ x 62⅝ in (100 x 159.1 x 159.1 cm). Estimate £10,000,000-15,000,000. Offered in Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 4 October 2018 at Christie’s in London. Artwork © Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons (b. 1955), Cracked Egg (Blue). Executed between 1994-2006, this work is one of five unique versions. (ii) 39⅜ x 62⅝ x 62⅝ in (100 x 159.1 x 159.1 cm). Estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000. Offered in Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 4 October 2018 at Christie’s in London. Artwork © Jeff Koons

The idea for the Celebration  series arose when Koons was working on a calendar for the dealer Anthony d’Offay. ‘I took my camera and I shot some balloon tulips on a reflective background, and I made a balloon dog, again on a reflective background,’ the artist has explained. ‘I bought a hanging heart with some gold ribbon from a shop window I saw on Lexington Avenue. I shot these different images and soon realised that this was too good, that I had more than a calendar here. I had a whole body of work.’

The Celebration  series, which takes childhood and the cycle of life as its central theme, assumed a fresh resonance for Koons after the birth of his son in 1992. Accordingly, the project revolves around objects that represent milestones in the calendar year: flowers for spring, for instance; balloons for birthdays; hearts for Valentine’s Day; and eggs for Easter.

‘It’s about moving on and transcendence, like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus’ — Jeff Koons

Easter, with its connotations of birth, resurrection, fertility and creation, holds particular significance for Koons. In Cracked Egg (Blue), as the artist has explained, the birth itself has already happened: ‘Whatever was born has moved on but the remnants and the grandness of its participation remain… It’s about moving on and transcendence, like Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.

As with Koons’ early Equilibrium  (1985) works, the Cracked Egg  sculptures are a fusion of opposites, casting a fragile, ephemeral object in a durable, solid medium. While the egg’s symbolic connotations might call to mind grand, existential ideas, its lustrous coating and piercing colour — evocative of candy wrappers and balloons — also suggests notions of consumerism and desire.

Cracked Egg (Blue)  will be offered on 4 October in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction at Christie’s London.