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  • Writer's pictureKate Hopkins-Searle

Jeff Koons at the Asmolean

Last week I went to see the Jeff Koons exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford. I’ve always been a big fan of Pop Art; the idea of “emphasizing the banal or Kitsch elements of any culture, most often through the use of irony”. This huge work titled ‘Ushering in Banality’ (1988) is based on a re-imagined mass-produced ornament. ‘Koons’s intention was to give people permission to love their cultural pasts – however lowbrow. Giving the cute and the kitsch the artistry and status of, say, a Rococo sculpture, encouraged people to stop feeling guilty about their guilty pleasures.’ (But do people who like and collect these types of things feel guilty about this pleasure? I doubt it, I expect they just get on and collect and enjoy.)

The piece above is part of his Banality series. He says “I used it to remove judgement and to remove the type of hierarchy that exists. I don’t like to use the word ‘kitsch’ because kitsch is automatically making a judgement about something. I always saw ‘banality’ as a little freer than that.” Having done a bit of online research on ‘Kitsch’ and ‘Banality’ I think I prefer my art to be Kitsch.

Kitsch: a German word that's been adopted into English, meaning "worthless, trashy art,"

Banal: so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.

Trashy art sounds more fun than boring art!

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