Jeff Koons has reupholstered classic Louis Vuitton goods with paintings from the masters.
Photo Credit Louis Vuitton Instagram
In case you were sleeping, Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton just showed off their 51-piece collaboration, entitled Masters. Koons chose four paintings Van Gogh’s A Wheatfield With Cypress, Titian’s Mars, Venus, and Cupid, Fragonard’s Girl With a Dog, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Rubens’ The Tiger Hunt and emblazoned them on Vuitton bags (Speedy, Keepall, Montaigne, Palm Springs Backpack, Neverfull and a few more) and scarves. Below are celebrities--Adele Exachopoulos, Chloe Sévigny, Jennifer Connelly, and Doona Bae photographed by Patrick Demarchelier with the bags at the launch party at the Louvre in Paris Tuesday night.
Photo credits Louis Vuitton Instagram
Why those artists and their works? This collaboration was inspired by Koons’ own Gazing Ball series. He reconstructed those same paintings and added a metal gazing ball to each piece. It’s like Marcel Duchamp and a classicist got drunk in a bar and said, “Let’s create something.”
The bags and scarves are now a more expensive version of the art postcard that could be bought at a museum gift shop. If one has ever lusted for a painting that is worth millions, one can now purchase a interesting and truly artistic replica for only thousands. The collection, which will hit stores on April 28, runs from $585 for a key chain (Koons’ own balloon animal in outline) to $4000 for a carryall. The artist’s name is emblazoned on the bag in reflective letters. Inside each bag is a mini bio of the artist. Good for people who slept through their art history or art appreciation classes.
This isn’t the first-time Vuitton’s had a collaboration. In the past, when Marc Jacobs was its creative director, there were limited edition bags from Stephen Sprouse, Morikami (remember the cherry blossom bags?), Richard Prince, and Kusama. In fact, Vuitton just wrapped up a collaboration with Supreme, a luxury skate brand (no, not an oxymoron). On the 28th of April, the Louis Vuitton X Jeff Koons Masters collaboration will go on sale at select stores and a pop-up shop in New York City.
There have been mixed reactions from the press and from people commenting on Instagram.
From Louis Vuitton Instagram
The Hollywood Reporter’s headline is “The Louis Vuitton X Jeff Koons Collab Is A Head-Scratcher.” Jonathan Jones of The Guardian loves it. In his article, “Jeff Koons' Louis Vuitton bags: a joyous art history lesson,” For from rubbing Rubens in the dirt and reducing the sublime to the worthless, these luxury objects look to me like heartfelt homages to great art. Koons clearly has an erudite and passionate love of oil painting, for while his bags touting the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh’s Wheat Field With Cypresses may be easy on our brains, he is also bravely educating us by insisting on the glamour of Rubens, Titian and Fragonard.”
I fail to see how these bags could be construed as cheap tat. If anything, they’re the opposite. The repeated LV monogram (which does looks like tacky 70s wallpaper) has all but disappeared—there’s an LV on one side of the bag, and a JK (for Jeff Koons) on the other side of it. The art, which might appear forbidding on a museum’s wall, becomes accessible. It becomes an object of enjoyment. That’s what art is about. Enjoyment. Enrichment of the soul. Koons shakes off the dust and breathes new interest in artists, except for Da Vinci and Van Gogh, that have been left on the wayside. By re-utilizing them into tablet cases, backpacks or scarves, they’ve become modern works of art.
If the collection becomes successful, there might be a second collaboration. There are 40 works in Koons’ Gazing Ball series.
In an interview with The New York Times, Koons stated, “I can’t wait to see the bags in the real world. To find out what people will choose, and what clothes they will wear with the bags, what type of presentation of themselves they’ll want to display. The whole experience made me want to make more things that are accessible to people.”
The question arises about accessibility. Items that start at $585 and go up, aren’t accessible to most people. Then again, an extremely successful artist like Koons is used to hobnobbing with people who can afford his pricey work, so to him, one supposes a key chain that costs $585, is like a $6 keychain to the rest of us.
Those who may greedily lust after a Koons/Louis Vuitton bag but cannot afford it, may find themselves buying an hommage one….and one of those people just might be me.