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Since the late Middle Ages, the self portrait has been a tried and tested genre within visual arts. Nearly all the great artists tried their hands at it. Jan van Eyck painted himself in the mirror, as witness at the marriage of Arnolfini, the merchant. Rembrandt (and also Philip Akkerman, who lives and workes in The Hague) immortalised their own face time and again, showing the passage of time and the traces it leaves. And Piet Mondrian had his own version of a self portrait: he had himself photographed in his neo-plastic studio. The museum’s guide Bregje van der Laar is fascinated by the phenomenon and has created a competition on her blog. Anybody submitting a self portrait could win 1000 euro and participate in the exhibition You can argue about taste which will be on show in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam from 24 February 2013.
Economic Faculty association Rotterdam
The mission of the Economic Faculty association Rotterdam is to bridge the gap between theory and practice. The EFR organises study related activities for economically orientated students at the Erasmus University Rotterdam and aims to provide her 4500 members with experiences that contribute to their general, academic, social and career prospect development.
Dadara is the pseudonym of Daniel Rozenberg (1969), who has been active as an artist in the alternative circuit for more than two decades. In the early nineties, he designed folders and CD covers and gave performances in the context of the international house music scene. He then created a number of large projects in the public space, for example a 9-metre tall ‘Greyman Statue of No Liberty’ that was erected in front of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 1999. One idea plays a role in all his work: the contradiction between the demands of a materialistic society and the freedom of the destitute individual. Are there ways of living together yet still remain free? Although his point of departure is an anti-money attitude, Dadara has been concentrating for several years on money and the way it works. He designs and prints bank notes and by doing this raises questions about the value of money with regard to other values in life, such as beauty, freedom, friendship and love. On his blog, Art as Money, he further discusses art, money, and life in general.
Baroque Lady with Bow (pink/white)
This Portrait of a Lady was painted in 1829 by Jan Adam Kruseman. He was the society painter of Dutch Romanticism and painted ladies from the well-to-do class who closely followed the latest developments in Parisian fashion. Kruseman painted in detail their fashionable hairstyles, hats, shawls and accessories. The lady in this portrait is clearly proud of her exceptional headdress and can hardly envisage that future generations will laugh at her and compare her to an enormous Easter egg.
Baroque Egg with Bow (Orange/Magenta)
This big Easter egg is part of the Celebration series, in which Koons shows symbols and attributes that belong to popular holidays: birthdays, marriage, Valentine’s Day, Easter. The series includes paintings and sculptures, featuring balloons, rings, hearts and Easter eggs. The sculptures are made of stainless steel and spray-painted in bright colours. A total of 10 Easter eggs have been made: 5 of these have a smooth and shiny surface (Smooth Egg) and 5 are, as it were, packed in crumpled foil. Each egg is unique, thanks to the colour combination: turquoise with magenta, turquoise with blue, orange with magenta etc.
Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania. His parents are interior designers and own a furniture showroom. Jeff likes drawing and painting and starts taking lessons at an early age. His father sells his paintings in the showroom. When somebody orders an interior in French style, Koons looks up French paintings in books and makes something to complement the interior. After high school, Koons attends the art academy in Baltimore, becomes fascinated with Pop Art and completes his training in Chicago, where Pop Art artists such as Ed Paschke and Jim Nut teach. He then goes to New York. After working for a time in MOMA at the members counter and trading as stockbroker on Wall Street, his first exhibition opened in New York in 1980. It was given the title The New. From that moment onwards, it has been impossible to ignore Jeff Koons as part of the contemporary art scene.
Bregje gives the impression here that Baroque Egg with Bow (Orange/Magenta) was purchased by the museum, but that is not true. In fact: no single egg belongs to a museum collection. All Koons’ eggs (with one exception, which is still in the possession of the artist) belong to important private collections, such as those of the French business man François Pinault and the English artist Damien Hirst. The owner of this Easter egg, Bert Kreuk, has given it on loan to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen until at least March 2015. See also this ARTtube video about Koons' Egg: The arrival of the egg.
The career of Jeff Koons
Koons’ first series of works was entitled The New (1980-1983) and consists of Hoover vacuum cleaners displayed in perspex showcases. It is his personal variation on Marcel Duchamps’ puzzling The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Even.
The subsequent series are:
2. Equilibrium (1985) with bronze water-sport articles, basketballs in aquaria and a special edition of Nike posters. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen owns the poster: Jam Session.
3. Luxury and Degradation (1986), with paintings of alcohol advertisements and stainless steel replicas of objects that have to do with alcohol consumption.
4. Banality (1988-1989) with enormous kitsch-like ceramic sculptures of, for example, Michael Jackson and his monkey Bubbles or a pig accompanied by angels.
5. Made in Heaven (1990-1999), with large photos and images of the (physical) love between Koons and the Italian porno actress Cicciolina.
6. Puppy, two sculptures for the public space of a dog constructed of flowering plants.
7. Celebration (1994-2008) with symbols of important holidays on canvas and as sculpture
8. Easyfun/Easyfun Etheral (1999-present), with mainly paintings with seductive images from the world of advertising and fashion.
Development of prices for Koons (a few examples)
A basketball in an aquarium from the Equilibrium series cost 3000 dollars in 1985; it is now worth around 250,000 dollars. That’s relatively little, which has to do with the fact that the ball slowly decomposes in the liquid. A bronze rowing-boat from the same series cost 8000 dollars in 1985; it now costs 2 million.
In 1999 (that is, 10 years after the sculpture was made) Pink Panther from the Banality series cost 1.8 million. The Jim Beamer J.B. Turner Train (sculpture from the Luxury and Degradation series) changed owners in 2008 for 5.5 million dollars and Michael Jackson & Bubbles (from Banality) was auctioned in the same year for 5.6 million dollars. At the end of the ‘nineties, sculptures from the Celebration series cost between 1 and 2 million dollars; in May 2009, a Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta) was auctioned for 5.5 million and in November 2011, Bert Kreuk acquired the egg that is now in Boijmans for 6.2 million. Yet these prices are not records for Koons. On 14 November 2007, a Hanging Heart from the Celebration series was sold for 23.6 dollars and in July 2008, a Balloon Flower (Magenta) was auctioned for 25.7 million.
What sets the value of art?
In episode 1 of Boijmans TV 2013, a group of economics students and guide Bregje van der Laar take a closer look at this important question. The discussion is triggered by Jeff Koons’ enormous Baroque Egg with Bow (Orange/Magenta), which was purchased in 2011 by a private collector for 6.2 million dollars. Does the value depend directly on the fame of the artist? Is it proportional to the beauty of the subject depicted? Does the concept of supply and demand apply or does it simply come down to ‘whatever you can get for it’?
As the students fantasise with graphs and profitability models that give insight into the true worth of art, security guard Arie interrogates the artist Dadara. Dadara is also a bank manager and issues his own money, in wonderful notes of zero, million and infinity. But not everybody believes they have any value. Why do people believe that the Euro has any value?
The artistic couple in the espresso bar, enjoying a cup of coffee amidst old and new media, also has an unusual attitude towards money. Pay?
And cashier Mandy isn’t happy. The Dutch winter is making her pale and lifeless. Until Museum Director Sjarel Ex cheers her up with his remark that she is ‘the museum’s human face.’
Boijmans TV is a collaboration of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, RTV Rijnmond and Ro Theater, developed with the support of VSBfonds and the Mediafonds. The series was produced by the Rotterdam-based production house Popov Film.
The Boijmans TV team:
Sander Burger (final editor)
Kuba Szutkowski (producer)
Dragan Bakema (creative producer)
Edgar Kapp (production leader)
Jetse Batelaan (director of guided tours)
Wilfried de Jong (concept and interviews)
Els Hoek (research and direction)
And many others.