"Art making is a form of alchemy, in a way, because you are trying…to make gold from nothing. When it works very well is when you manage to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."
Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore (1976), and honorary doctorates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2008) and Corcoran College of Art and Design, Washington, DC (2002). Koons plucks images and objects from popular culture, framing questions about taste and pleasure. His contextual sleight-of-hand, which transforms banal items into sumptuous icons, takes on a psychological dimension through dramatic shifts in scale, spectacularly engineered surfaces, and subliminal allegories of animals, humans, and anthropomorphized objects. The subject of art history is a constant undercurrent in his work, whether Koons elevates kitsch to the level of classical art, produces photos in the manner of Baroque paintings, or develops public works that borrow techniques and elements of seventeenth-century French garden design. Organizing his own studio production in a manner that rivals a Renaissance workshop, Koons makes computer-assisted, handcrafted works that communicate through their meticulous attention to detail. Among the awards he has received are Officer of the French Legion of Honor (2007); the Artistic Achievement Award from Americans for the Arts (2006); and the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (2002). Recent major exhibitions have appeared at Château de Versailles, France (2008); the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2008); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2008); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2006); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002); and other institutions. Koons has participated in the Bienal de São Paulo (2002); Venice Biennale (1990, 1997); Sydney Biennale (1990); and the Whitney Biennial (1987, 1989). He was elected as a Fellow to the American Academy for Arts and Sciences in 2005. Jeff Koons lives and works in New York.