Balloon Dog

balloon dog by jeff koons

Balloon Dog is a sculpture by American artist, Jeff Koons. It is over ten feet tall, and constructed of high chromium stainless steel with a transparent color coating. It is part of the ‘Celebration’ series, which Koons began working on in 1993. Other forms in the series of sculptures and paintings include Valentine hearts, diamonds, and Easter eggs. Some of the pieces are still being fabricated. Each of the 20 different sculptures in the series comes in five differently colored ‘unique versions.’

Koons was pushing to finish the series in time for a 1996 exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, but the show was ultimately canceled because of production delays and cost overruns. The artist convinced his primary collectors Dakis Joannou, Peter Brant, and Eli Broad, along with dealers Jeffrey Deitch, Anthony d’Offay, and Max Hetzler, to invest heavily in the costly fabrication of the Celebration series at Arnold, a Frankfurt-based company. The dealers funded the project in part by selling works to collectors before they were fabricated.

Koons has been sued several times for copyright infringement over his use of pre-existing images, the original works of others, in his work. In ‘Rogers v. Koons’ (1992), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a judgment against him for his use of a photograph of puppies as the basis for a sculpture, ‘String of Puppies.’ In a separate matter, Koons threatened others under copyright, claiming that a gallery infringed his proprietary rights by selling bookends in the shape of balloon dogs. Koons abandoned that claim after the gallery filed a complaint for declaratory relief stating, ‘As virtually any clown can attest, no one owns the idea of making a balloon dog, and the shape created by twisting a balloon into a dog-like form is part of the public domain.’

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