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Biography of Jeff Koons

See works in the collection

b. 1955, York, Pennsylvania

1955
Bon in York, Pennsylvania. His father owned a furniture and decor store. Koons learns from him his aesthetic sense.
1962
Begins to attend drawing classes, displaying his work at his father’s furniture store.
1972
Enrolls at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where he studies art and design. His first daughter, Shannon, is born during college years.
1975
Moves to Chicago, where he continues his studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attends lectures by Ed Pasche and Jim Nutt.
1976
Moves to New York. Forges a friendship with singer Patti Smith and members of the Talking Heads.
1977
Artists David Salle and Julian Schnabel introduce Koons to gallery owner Mary Boone, who takes an interest in his work. Begins to work on sculptures that incorporate inflatable flowers and rabbits.
1978
Begins his Inflatables series and the following year the Pre-New.
1980
Exhibits a work from the series The New, comprising a vacuum cleaner inside a vitrine, in the window of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
1985
Begins the Equilibrium Tanks series, showing works from the series at his first solo exhibition in New York, at International with Monument, and at Feature Gallery in Chicago. This series features the famous work Two Ball 50/50 Tank in which some basketballs are suspended in water inside vitrines.
1986
Works from Koons’s metal sculptures Luxury and Degradation series are exhibited at International with Monument in New York and Daniel Weinberg Gallery in Los Angeles.
Creates his iconic Rabbit from the Statuary series.
1987
Koon’s work is included in New York Art Now at the Saatchi Collection in London. Takes part in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Makes Kiepenkerl for the Skulptur Projekte, Munich.
1988
Works from Koons’s Banality series in polychromed wood and porcelain, including the sculpture Michael Jackson and Bubbles, are exhibited at Ileana Sonnabend Gallery in New York, Donald Young Gallery in Chicago, and Galerie Max Hetzler in Cologne.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago presents an exhibition of his work.
1989
Exhibits at the Rotterdamse Kunststichting in Rotterdam.
On the occasion of the Image of the World exhibition held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, displays, on an advertising billboard on Broadway in New York, the first image in the Made in Heaven series, in which the artist appears with porn star Ilona Staller (known as Cicciolina).
1990
Participates in the XLIV Biennale di Venezia, where he shows works from his Made in Heaven series.
1991
Works from the Made in Heaven series are exhibited at Ileana Sonnabend Gallery in New York and Galerie Max Hetzler in Cologne. Marries Ilona Staller in Budapest.
1992
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam hold retrospective exhibitions of Koons’s work. Works from the Made in Heaven series are exhibited at Galerie Lehmann in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Christophe Van de Weghe in Brussels. Creates Puppy, a 40-foot-high topiary sculpture in the form of a West Highland terrier, in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Publishes The Jeff Koons Handbook. His son Ludwig Maximiliam is born.
1993
Begins the Celebration series. Divorces Ilona Staller and they embark on a lengthy custody battle involving their son Ludwig.
1994
Exhibits at Anthony d'Offay Gallery in London.
1995
Puppy is exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
1997
Exhibits at Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont in Paris. Puppy is permanently installed outside the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao on the occasion of the museum’s inauguration.
1999
Exhibits at Ileana Sonnabend Gallery in New York and the Deste Foundation Centre for Contemporary Art in Athens.
2000
Creates the Easyfun-Ethereal series. Paintings from the series are exhibited at Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. Installs the topiary sculpture Split-Rocker at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France. Puppy is temporarily installed at Rockefeller Center in New York. Receives the BZ-Kulturpreis from the Berliner Zeitung in Berlin.
2001
Exhibits at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Bregenz, Austria, and Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles. Works from the Easyfun-Ethereal series are exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the following year at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. His son Sean Kyah is born.
2002
The Kunsthaus Bielefeld in Bielefeld, Germany, organizes a show of Koons’s photographs and graphic work. Participates in the XXV Bienal de São Paulo, where he shows works from the Easyfun-Ethereal series.
Receives the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Receives an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. Is named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in France. Marries Justine Wheeler.
2003
Exhibits in an Italian museum for the first time, at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli in Naples. Koons’s work is featured in From Jasper Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. His son Kurt Leo is born.
2004
Exhibits at Galerie Max Hetzler in Berlin. Retrospective exhibitions in Oslo and New York.
2005
Elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in New York. His son Blake Owen is born.
2006
Koons’s work is shown alongside Antonio Canova’s in the exhibition Canova and Koons: Classical Subversion at Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin.
2007
Named Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris.
Participates in the Triennale di Milano, in the Atelier Bovisa.
Gagosian Gallery in London presents two exhibitions of the artist’s work simultaneously: Jeff Koons: Popeye and Jeff Koons: Hulk Elvis.
Koons’s work is featured in the group exhibition Guggenheim Collection: 1940s to Now at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
2008
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago presents an exhibition devoted to the artist’s work. Three large-scale works are temporarily installed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: Balloon Dog (Yellow) (1994–2000), Coloring Book (1997–2005), and Sacred Heart (Red/Gold) (1994–2007).
An exhibition of the artist’s work is shown at the Château de Versailles in Versailles, France. His son Eric is born.
2009
Koons’s work is featured in the show Four-4 at the Black Cube Gallery in Barcelona and in The Unexpected: Van Picasso tot Penck, van Appel tot Koons at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
2010
Named a fellow of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
His work is exhibited at the Gagosian Gallery in New York and Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont in Paris.
The nonprofit organization RxArt, with support from Kiehl’s, installs Koons’s work at the Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
The BMW Art Car created by Koons completes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, France. His daughter Scarlet is born.
2011
Receives the Voice of Art Award from the F·E·G·S Health and Human Services System organization, and the Artist Icon Award in the Arts from the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut.
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh inaugurates ARTIST ROOMS Jeff Koons.
2012
The U.S. State Department grants him the Medal of Arts. Monographic exhibitions at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, Almine Rech Gallery in Brussels, and the Fondation Beyeler in Basel. Jeff Koons: The Painter opens at the Schirn Kunsthalle and at the same time Jeff Koons: The Sculptor at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, both in Frankfurt.
2013
Presents works from the series Antiquity and Hulk Elvis, as well as the works Balloon Swan, Balloon Monkey, and Balloon Rabbit at the exhibition Jeff Koons: New Paintings and Sculpture held at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. His series Gazing Ball is on view at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York. His son Mick is born.
2014
A major retrospective opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. It later travels to the Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in summer 2015.
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