An inflatable elephant was one of the first inflatables Jeff Koons worked with when he first moved to New York as a young artist in the late Seventies. In 2003, Koons referenced the inflatable in his sculpture, Elephant, that is depicted on this limited edition Bernardaud plate. Initially chosen by Koons for its visual intensity, Elephant is a mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture with stencils of colors broken down to look like the original inflatable toy and applied in transparent color. Elephant comes after the Koons’ Celebration series but also incorporates aspects of the iconic Rabbit from the Statuary Series in 1986.
The elephant is a common motif in the work of Jeff Koons. From its first appearance as an inflatable toy in his studio, the elephant form reoccurs in various forms in works such as a large-scale stainless steel sculpture within the Celebration series, a brightly colored Easyfun animal mirror, and imagery within the painting, Elephants, in the Easyfun-Etheral series.
Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1955. He studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976. Koons lives and works in New York City.
Since his first solo exhibition in 1980, Koons’s work has been shown in major galleries and institutions throughout the world. His work is the subject of a major exhibition organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, Jeff Koons: A Retrospective (June 27 - October 19, 2014), which traveled to the Centre Pompidou Paris (November 26, 2014 - April 27, 2015) and the Guggenheim Bilbao (June 12 - September 27, 2015). Recent exhibitions in Europe include Jeff Koons in Florence installed at Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy (September 25 - December 28, 2015) and Balloon Venus (Orange), which is currently on view in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria (September 30 - March 13, 2016). Gazing Ball Paintings, Koons’s most recent series, was exhibited for the first time at Gagosian Gallery, New York (November 12 - December 23, 2015).
Koons earned renown for his public sculptures, such as the monumental floral sculpture Puppy (1992), shown at Rockefeller Center and permanently installed at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Another floral sculpture, Split-Rocker (2000), previously installed at the Papal Palace in Avignon, Château de Versailles, and Fondation Beyeler in Basel, was most recently on view at Rockefeller Center in 2014.
Jeff Koons has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of his cultural achievements. Notably, Koons received the Governor’s Awards for the Arts “Distinguished Arts Award” from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; the “Golden Plate Award” from the Academy of Achievement; President Jacques Chirac promoted Koons to Officier de la Legion d’Honneur; and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored Koons with the State Department’s Medal of the Arts for his outstanding commitment to the Art in Embassies Program and international cultural exchange. Koons has been a board member of The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) since 2002, and co-founded the Koons Family International Law and Policy Institute with ICMEC; for the purpose of combating global issues of child abduction and exploitation and to protect the world’s children.