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Jeff Koons at Booker T. Washington HS


by Anne Bothwell 16 Jan 2009

Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny) Some of the speakers at the Nasher Salon series are now participating in a second, afternoon salon at Booker T. Washington High School. Jeff Koons stopped by the school yesterday, fresh from his interview with KERA’s Krys Boyd (You can still listen to that) and before his […]

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Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny)

Some of the speakers at the Nasher Salon series are now participating in a second, afternoon salon at Booker T. Washington High School. Jeff Koons stopped by the school yesterday, fresh from his interview with KERA’s Krys Boyd (You can still listen to that) and before his appearance at the Nasher last night.

I’d never seen Koons speak, and its disarming how boyish, soft-spoken, and positive he is. Not at all what I imagined from the man behind the “Made in Heaven” series, featuring himself and then-wife and porn star Cicciolina.

He shared that he had a lot of trouble with anxiety when he was younger. As an artist, he said, it’s essential that you “just do what your internal self is telling you to do.” Problem is, “what you want to do most is what you have the most anxiety about.”

But if you accept yourself, acknowledge that you and everything you do is perfect, just the way it should be, you’ll become more accepting of the world outside yourself, and of others. And anxiety disappears. A nice goal, especially to share with students. It also left me wondering if Koons is a fan of The Secret.

Two more fun facts:

  • Koons attended the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Then one night, he heard Patti Smith’s album, Horses. He says he quit school and hitchhiked to New York the next day.
  • Koons often uses existing objects – blow-up toys and vacuum cleaners; right now, cranes and steam engines – in his work. He traces some of this back to days spent in his father’s furniture store, where display rooms changed regularly and that is when he became aware that the way you put objects together “can make you feel different ways.”

Did anyone catch him at the Nasher series on Thursday night?

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