In 1993, Jeff Koons began Celebration, a series of large-scale sculptures consisting of tulips, eggs, hearts—and his infamous balloon dogs.
According to Koons, the inflatable animals are a representation of breath and human life. Exuding optimism, the sculptures create a juxtaposition between the everyday and the monumental.
The reflective surfaces of his balloons also contribute to their meaning. Traveling to locations around the world—including Versailles, Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum—each sculpture reflects and celebrates its current surroundings.
However you choose to interpret Koons’ sculptures, there’s no denying that he turned the balloon dog into a cultural icon. See how three of our artists have chosen to pay homage to the balloon dog in their own work.
The Underdog, a piece from Craig Alan’s Populus series, directly references Koons. However, rather than placing the balloon dog in a recognizable location, Alan surrounds it with a minimalist urban environment. He chooses to focus more on the people that are drawn to the sculpture. The dog’s size is exaggerated even further, illustrating its influence and allure.
Using both balloon and origami animals, Nathalie Boissonnault illustrates different aspects of human relationships. Though the animals often represent serious subjects, she enjoys the playful, innocent quality that the balloon animals bring to her work.
Abstract painter Ashley Andrews often nods to other artists in her work, including Basquiat, Warhol and de Kooning. In Je Suis Ash, Andrews transforms Koons’ balloon dog with her signature abstract expressionist style. Removing the shiny perfection from the balloon, it becomes less of a commercialized object and more a symbol of naïveté.