[Editor’s Note: This conversation has been edited for clarity.]
Through Neiman Marcus, art lovers can now take home a small piece of Jeff Koons’ work. The luxury retailer is exclusively offering the fruits of a new collaboration between Koons and porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud. The new collection, available now, consists of porcelain balloon animal sculptures, which mimic Koons’ larger installment, and plates. For this collaboration, Koons put aside his affinity for massive installments for a fine, smaller-scale approach. With the help of Bernardaud’s knowledge of porcelain, the collection allows homeowners to bring home the art for which Koons is so well known. For Koons, he hopes that making his art accessible will allow the customer to realize their own potential through this collection, which Michel Bernardaud said is one of the biggest collaborations the company has done in its 154 years. On a recent stop at Neiman’s flagship store in downtown Dallas, we talked to Koons about the collaboration and the inspiration behind the collection.
The key part of your art is the observer’s interaction with the piece. How did you come to create art in this way—to capture the observer’s interaction?
You know, for myself, it’s been a lifetime of my interactions with art, [and] coming to an understanding of what its meaning is for me through my experience. Starting when I was a child, it was really just about rules and learning how to make something look three-dimensional and have a connection to realism. [Now, it is] going into the realm of feelings and the development of personal iconography [where I found] I could control the way I feel and the way other people would feel. Feelings do automatically take you into ideas, and you start to understand actually the bliss of those ideas.
Did creating this collection influence your process, knowing that the pieces would need to appeal to a mass audience?
I’m really proud of the works that we’ve made and the different collections, the balloon dog plates, and the individual balloon animals. I’ve worked in porcelain since the mid-eighties [when] I made a series of work called Banality. Since that time, I’ve had an appreciation for the material and how it behaves, how it responds. I thought it was really perfect to place the balloon animals in that material because it’s one that has a sensual side to it. Porcelain shrinks about 19 percent in the oven, so it has that tightness. It also has a dialogue about economics and democracy. At one time, porcelain came only from the emperor and king’s kitchens. And today, we all can have it; we all can enjoy the material. It celebrates refinement but also the democratization of materials and ideas.
Would you say that some of those concepts were part of the inspiration for these particular pieces in the collection?
Usually, my works are in stainless steel, and they’re quite large and heavy. An average piece will weigh about two tons, and just to move it and install it could cost a tremendous amount of money. So to make works that carry the same ideas and to make them accessible for people is very meaningful to me. I think these works stay profound, and they stay clear in their moral and execution.