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Jeff Koons: Popeye Series - Serpentine Gallery

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION of works by the celebrated American artist Jeff Koons, Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, is on display at the Serpentine Gallery until September 13, 2009.

Working in thematic series since the early 1980s, Koons has explored notions of consumerism, taste, banality, childhood and sexuality. He is known for his meticulously fabricated works that draw on a variety of objects and images from American and consumer culture.

In this current exhibition, his first major exhibition in a public gallery in England, Koons presents paintings and sculptures from his Popeye series, which he began in 2002.

The works incorporate some of Koons’s signature ideas and motifs, including surreal combinations of everyday objects, cartoon imagery, art-historical references and children’s toys.

The sculptures on show continue Koons’s interest in casting inflatable toys. Those typically used by children in a swimming pool are cast in aluminium, their surfaces painted to bear an uncanny resemblance to the original objects. He juxtaposes these replica readymades with unaltered everyday objects, such as chairs or rubbish bins.

The paintings are complex and layered compositions that combine disparate images both found and created by Koons, including images of the sculptures in the series.

Featuring loans from both public and private collections, the exhibition also includes works that have never been shown publicly before. The immediately recognisable figures of Popeye and Olive Oyl are central in the series and appear in several prominent works within the exhibition.

One of the most iconic American comicstrip characters, Popeye was conceived 80 years ago this year in 1929 when the Great Depression was taking hold. In Popeye’s early years, the cartoon addressed the hardships and injustices of the time and, in this current period of economic recession, he is a fitting character to rediscover and explore.

Koons has used inflatables in his work since the late 1970s. One of his most iconic sculptures, Rabbit (1986) is an inflatable bunny rendered in reflective stainless steel. He has also made sculptures on a spectacular scale inspired by inflatables, including works from his monumental Celebration series.

Admission: Free.

Times: Daily from 10am to 6pm.

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA

Tel: 020 7402 6075