Accessing Art as An Amateur: Jeff Koons

Michael Jackson and Bubbles (porcelain sculpture) 1988

I had the privilege of seeing this piece in person over the weekend! The famous Koons’ Micheal Jackson and Bubbles piece is a popular one because of it’s subject matter and also because Koons has an uncanny ability to recreate people and objects in his artwork most people tend to love. (Like The Balloon dog sculpture as another example) The king of pop, Micheal Jackson is no exception.

Stylized in porcelain, he sits lounged with Bubbles his beloved pet monkey on his lap in a pose that would suggest that that they are at home, seated. Maybe waiting for a Polaroid photo to pop out of the camera? In my youth I can remembering always seeing porcelain ladies with high bouffant hair and the gentlemen who accompanied them in attire that seemed straight out Marie Anotoniette’s court set in figurines and lamps. These were pretty things I was to never touch least I risked wanting a good spanking. They always looked like royalty to me so that’s what I assumed as a small child.

Looking at MJ and Bubbles brings me back to my childhood to the homes of my great aunts and uncles who had such porcelain decorative pieces in their living rooms that I would gaze at from afar. With his curls, clothes, shoes and even Bubbles accented in gold, they sit like royalty. Micheal is precious, worthy and every bit the King of Pop, the king of music with his record breaking sales and adoring fans. Even his eyebrows are golden as are several of the flowers surrounding him and his pet. The bit of color outside of the gold and white color scheme are the red lips on both MJ and Bubbles and the bit of reddish color in his cheeks. The fact that his likeness is captured here with Bubbles reminds me of paintings and other artwork of young princes in other countries around the world throughout the different eras where they too have their likeness captured with exotic pets like elephants and tigers.

In real life, off the stage, Micheal Jackson was notoriously shy and the older he got the less we saw regarding his private life, especially with the child molestation speculation court cases and following scandals. Notice how the MJ here doesn’t look forward, he doesn't look towards us: the audience. He doesn’t grant us access to him. He looks away. We look upon him. Like a prince. Or a deity.

This sculpture saw the first days of life as a created piece back almost 30 years ago which make same wonder just when did Micheal Jackson truly start feeling the strain of his megapop star lifestyle and start withdrawing from society?

As an artist he was making music up to the last year of his life and had much more in the works, but when did he get to a point where he felt frazzled enough to start checking out on us? This is but one of many artists’ interpretations of a man that the world loved twice over and then some. MJ was a man who many felt as if they knew him.

He was a vital apart of their lives somehow: their childhoods, adolescences and for somehis music was apart of the soundtrack that played in the background of the prime of their lives .

I’m not sure what was Koons’ objective here: to pay tribute to Micheal or show us a man that we placed too high on pedestal that he truly never found the way back down.

Selfie w/ the piece at The Broad Museum 12–05–15

Read more about this piece here in an interview with the artist

Here’s the artist’s official website with a most of his collections

⭐️ Writer, Editor & Media Scholar with an affinity for red lipstick living in California. Writes about literature, art, cinema & amazing women. ⭐️

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