"We are the contemporary Adam and Eve," stated Jeff Koons about his Made in Heaven series, a body of work that features the artist with his then wife, the Italian porn star Cicciolina in moments of sexual foreplay. These images of exuberant sexuality were first presented at the 1990 Venice Biennale where, exhibited among more conventional forms of expression, they produced both shock and titillation among viewers. Koons hit a nerve in the art world with this series, in part because it was shocking subject matter that tested the limits of late twentieth century censorship. While audiences are quite familiar with the semiotics of popular media, pornography was a form of popular culture that was and is still taboo in polite company. Koons has always sought to test the boundaries of appropriate taste. In Made in Heaven, love, romance and sexual desire are examined critically, implicating the viewer by making him a participant, as nearly all pornography requires an outside viewer to be classified as such.
Ponies is perhaps the most genuinely tender of the series. The backdrop feels vaguely romantic, if only in a saccharine way. Are they ponies riding off in the dusk of a Western sunset? The artist is the modern day Adam, looking buff, muscular with perfectly coifed hair. Ciccolina is the late night cable television Eve, wearing the contemporary accouterments of lace hose, a tight corset and a diamond tennis bracelet. In a kind of reverse Pietá, Koons is caught in the moment of placing his mouth on Ciccolina's breast from below in an act that is both one from a male lover and a male child. He holds her and she holds him. While they are embracing each other, it is their individual pleasure that seems to guide their grasp of one another. The artist and Ciccolina are surrogates for all our fantasies.