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above left: Tr a i n , 2003–9 (est.), operational replica of 1943 Baldwin 2900
class steam locomotive in stainless steel and aluminium, and Liebherr LR 1750
lattice boom crane, 4877 x 4282 x 889 cm. How did he become inspired by the Hulk? “I remember coming
across the Hulk in different stores and not having [an] interest, and above right: Landscape (Tree) III, 2007, oil on canvas, 274 x 213 cm
then I was at an amusement fair and saw a Hulk hung up, and all of a
preceding pages: Liberty Bell, 2007, oil on canvas, 259 x 351 cm. sudden it hit me that this is really a very global-type image, this Hulk is
All images © the artist performing like an Eastern god, a guardian god, a protector, and this
was a very global-type archetype. And to be able to connect it to the
sense of arrogant masculinity and to connect it to Eastern guardian
then: a surface onto which viewers project their fantasies. Jon Jerde, gods… And when these things came together I began to have an
the California-based architect who’s one of the pioneers of Vegas-style interest in these paintings. What I’ve enjoyed is to look at the Hulk and
‘experience’ architecture, is fond of claiming that his facades (among I think have the viewer look at the Hulk, and have it transformed into
them Treasure Island, the Bellagio and the Fremont Street Experience) Warhol’s Elvis. And I call it Hulk Elvis to make a reference to this type of
are not surfaces so much as ‘stories’ – and a different story for every masculinity of Andy’s Elvis. Even though the Hulk doesn’t have a gun
visitor at that. Consequently the visitors – who, taking their cues from pointing at you, it still has this type of masculinity.”
the architecture, are encouraged to immerse themselves in the fantasy So does the image of a badly dressed, testosterone-drunk,
world he sets up – are the architecture’s co-creators. “I’ve always tried snarling puffed-up superman with military-green skin relate, in any
to make works that would have no more or less impact with the viewer way, to the political context at the moment? “I think it relates to sexual
than with myself,” Koons says. “I really like to believe that the art is not tension,” Koons replies, with maybe just enough ambiguity surrounding
in an object; the object works like a transponder, the art really happens that ‘it’ to leave you wondering whether he was talking about the Hulk
in between.” or America’s foreign policy.
It’s hard to say whether, in doing this, his work is somehow a His work, he says, is about the excitement of life and the
projection of the hopes and dreams of society’s unconscious or just excitement of your own possibilities. And at the very least he’s very
completely lacks consciousness. “My work never needs the viewer excited. “I would hope that there is an understanding of the power
to come prepared with anything,” he says. “You don’t have to know of art and its ability to communicate, how it can really create a very
anything about art.” Confusingly, though, he has just rattled off a list of metaphysical situation… You’re trying to have an impact on culture, that
the (presumably unimportant in the big scheme of things) influences link to how we think about life, how we think about our opportunities in
on his new landscape paintings (which will be included in the Hulk life, how we interpret our environment.”
Elvis show, so as to offer a more ‘feminine’ counterpart to the green
monsters) – “[Sigmar] Polke, [Georges] Seurat, [Roy] Lichtenstein and Hulk Elvis is on show at Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London, from
Damien [Hirst]”. 1 June to 27 July
ARTREVIEW nine.linzero.lin
p084-090 Koons AR Jun07.indd 90 10/5/07 03:07:47
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