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Qatar to Host First Exhibition by Jeff Koons in the Gulf Region

Jeff Koons: Lost in America to be brought by Qatar Museums to QM Gallery ALRIWAQ on November 21, 2021, as part of Qatar-US Year of Culture 2021.

Jeff Koons, one of the most prominent and also the most controversial artist in the art world, will show his work in Doha. Koons is prominent in the art world for multiple reasons, one of which is because his stainless-steel sculpture Rabbit sold for $91.1 million at Christie’s in New York, making him the world’s most expensive living artist. He is controversial for his works depicting himself in sexually explicit poses with the Italian porn star Cicciolina, whom he married in 1991. He is also been regularly accused of plagiarism, particularly over a 1988 series of sculptures called “Banality” but he defends himself as an artist of appropriation (as quoted in an art magazine).

Throughout his career, Jeff Koons has radically transformed the world of art, forging new relationships between the avant-garde and mass culture, while developing new paradigms for the role of the artist in the age of hyper-communication. He shares a preoccupation with American popular culture with many of his predecessors, who include artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, and with peers such as Robert Gober, Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince, Charles Ray and Cindy Sherman.

Jeff Koons, with his sculpture ‘Rabbitt’, 1986, during the Tate Modern: Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibition.© Jeff Koons / Photo © Tate (Andrew Dunkley)

Opening on November 21 2021 as part of the Qatar-United States 2021 Year of Culture, Jeff Koons: Lost in America will be on view through  31 March 2022 at the QM Gallery ALRIWAQ, the expansive exhibition space located in MIA Park, adjacent to the Museum of Islamic Art on Doha’s Corniche.

Organised by renowned curator Massimiliano Gioni, the exhibition provides a unique view into the exceptional career of one of the best-known contemporary artists, whose work bridges pop, minimalism and the readymade.

Lost in America presents a portrait of American culture as seen through Koons’s autobiography, beginning with his childhood in suburban Pennsylvania. The exhibition will feature more than 60 artworks drawn from Koons’s four-decades-long career and will be divided into 16 galleries, each introduced by an autobiographical text by the artist, emphasising his memories, influences and fascination with American visual culture. Conceived as an expansive self-portrait, the exhibition also includes sculptures and paintings with mesmerising, mirrored surfaces that reflect the viewers and call attention to notions of self-transformation and becoming.

Some of Koons’s best-known work will be represented from series such as The New (1980–87), Banality (1988), Celebration (1994–), Popeye (2002–2013) and Antiquity (2008–), alongside more recent works that will be shown for the first time during this special exhibition. In Koons’s paintings and sculptures, including some of the artist’s most iconic pieces such as Rabbit (1986), Balloon Dog (1994–2000) and Play-Doh (1994–2014), everyday objects and industrial materials are transformed into engaging artworks that pose questions about desire and hope, the self and transcendence, individuality and the masses.

Exhibition curator Massimiliano Gioni, who serves as artistic director of the New Museum in New York, said: “With his aesthetics of plenty and his dreams of transformation and acceptance, Jeff Koons has been creating a strange mirage of America. This will appear even more exciting when seen in Doha against the background of a city that has taken the fascination with the new to vertiginous heights.”

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson, Qatar Museums, stated: “We are greatly pleased that the Qatar-United States 2021 Year of Culture will include, as one of its most exciting programmes, the first major exhibition in the Gulf region of the work of the American artist Jeff Koons. Brilliantly curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Jeff Koons: Lost in America is an outstanding example of the bilateral connections and engaging dialogue we foster through the Years of Culture programme. With this presentation, Qatar Museums fulfils its role as a beacon for the region, providing audiences in Doha with an opportunity to experience the distinctive worldview of this justly celebrated artist.”

“I am honoured as an American artist to represent my country during the Year of Culture between Qatar and the United States. I have had amazing opportunities over the last two decades to visit Qatar, seeing its sites and cultural institutions and meeting some of its people,” stated Jeff Koons. “For me, it’s a dream come true for this exhibition to be part of the cultural exchange between Qatar and the United States. I am very grateful to Qatar Museums for inviting me to participate.”

Sheikha Reem Al Thani, Acting Deputy CEO of Exhibitions and Marketing, Qatar Museums, said: “As part of its mission to encourage cultural exchange, Qatar Museums is proud to present exhibitions of many of the world’s most influential contemporary artists. Jeff Koons: Lost in America will bring the public in Doha face-to-face with a body of work that has already altered the course of art history, and that is sure to fascinate and inspire our visitors.”

Jeff Koons: Lost in America is sponsored by Ooredoo, Qatar Airways and Katara Hospitality, as indicated by QM.