Renowned for his stainless steel, balloon-like sculptures, Jeff Koons is one of the world's most famous and controversial contemporary artists. His towering, playful works often push the boundaries of technology and can take years, sometimes even decades, to make. And though plenty of art critics scoff at his creations, Koons' pieces have been showcased at some of the world's most prestigious museums and galleries.
This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Anderson Cooper spoke with Jeff Koons about what inspired his "Celebration" series, which he started working on in 1993. The series is comprised of 16 sculptures and 16 photorealistic paintings, all with simple and playful names such as "Pink Bow," "Cake," "Party Hat" and "Balloon Dog."
60 Minutes visited one of the 10-foot tall balloon dog sculptures with Koons at The Broad museum in Los Angeles.
Though the pieces appear simplistic and cheerful, a darker, more personal backstory influenced the "Celebration" works. In 1991, Koons married Hungarian adult film actress turned member of the Italian Parliament, Ilona Staller. They later divorced, and during those proceedings, Koons said Staller took their son Ludwig to Italy in what he called a parental abduction.
Koons says making the "Celebration" series helped him move forward.
"I was never able to get my son back. But, you know, I was able to communicate, I think, that I cared about him," he said.
His newest project is titled "Moon Phases," which has the lofty goal of creating a permanent art exhibit on the moon. He has created 125 unique works depicting the shadows of the moon, each consisting of three components: miniature sculptures that will be installed on the moon, each with an NFT, or non-fungible token, that serves as digital proof the art is on the moon, as well as a larger sculpture to keep here on Earth. "Moon Phases" plans to launch from the Kennedy Space Center later this year.
The video above was originally published on May 21, 2023 and was edited by Will Croxton.
Editor's note: About 10 years ago, Anderson Cooper bought a work by Jeff Koons at a charity auction.
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