When Jeff Koons’s retrospective opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the summer of 2014, visitors were greeted by a full smorgasbord of the wildly famous, endlessly polarizing artist’s classic works. There was the panoramic pornography of his “Made in Heaven” series, made between 1989 and 1991. There were the iconic suspended basketballs, the gigantic yellow balloon dog, and the porcelain rendering of Michael Jackson and his pet chimp, Bubbles. And then, holding court in the biggest room, there was the gigantic, decades in the making Play-Doh (1994–2014), which towered ten feet high, its crags of putty cast in aluminum and held together simply by their own gravity.
But perhaps the most important work in the show was a three foot high stainless steel bunny a work that’s key to understanding not just Koons, but the transformative power of the art object in our modern world. Over the past three decades the statue, which is often thought of as an icon of contemporary art, has been the star of a number of museum exhibitions around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Tate Modern in London, the Château de Versailles, The Broad, and The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
3-feet tall, stainless steel “Rabbit” sculpture will be going on auction and is expected to sell for up to $70 million. Koon’s first foray into art took place in the late 70s with inflatable vinyls before making an exact stainless steel copy of the inflatable bunny in 1986. It is said that the Rabbit is one of Koon’s most significant works not only because of details of the casting, but also because of how the Rabbit was the pivoting point of Koon’s career as it led to his subsequent work on balloon animals.