Executed in 1986, Jeff Koons’s Louis XIV is an exceptional work from the artist’s early oeuvre, which presages the cult of personality that has been so central to his meteoric rise. Depicting himself as Louis XIV of France, Koons created a sculpture that is imposing and impressive, with a gleaming surface and tumbling torrents of hair. The stainless steel, perfect in its craftsmanship and often proletarian in its purposes, was applied to a number of works from the so-called Statuary series, which included sculptures ranging from the Baroque to the kitsch to the contemporary. Evoking the eternal, and, at times, the resolutely ephemeral, each subject was unified through its reincarnation in the same material. Koons noted that Louis XIV was used as “a symbol of what happens to art under a monarch (whoever controls it, it will eventually reflect his or her ego and simply become decorative.)” Louis XIV would remain a touchstone for Koons, later serving as the partial inspiration for his iconic Puppy, and setting the tone for his monumental Statuary series.
© Jeff Koons
Image credit: Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997), Untitled. © Estate of Martin Kippenberger, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne