Art Critics at Arms Over Claims to Koons Puppy

12/17/2009 3:16 PM |

Jeff Koons Puppy

In case you haven’t already read Jerry Saltz‘s end-of-the-decade ode to Jeff Koons in the current issue of New York, it’s well worth your time. Saltz avoids irking those of us who might find Koons’s beautiful, parodic monuments to shining, gleaming capitalism, well, irksome, by focusing on a piece best known as a public sculpture, Puppy (pictured). (Which, of course, was bought by a super-wealthy collector anyways, and now lives on a sprawling estate in Connecticut.) And, eloquently and persuasively as ever, he explains why Koons is more than just the kitschy celebrity artist he’s often dismissed as being.

Over at the L.A. Times, though, Christopher Knight takes issue with Saltz’s pick. But not on the grounds that Puppy lacks depth and is a lot like a giant pet robot (supercute!), but because Saltz failed to acknowledge all the places that the pup appeared throughout the 90s, making it not really eligible for “public artwork of the decade,” right?

There’s also some more deep-seated NY-vs-LA resentment at play in Knight’s piece, but I’d like to think that what he’s really getting at is that Koons’s flowery, happy dog, in retrospect, doesn’t seem like the most appropriate symbol for a decade marked by such a roller-coaster of highs and lows. My pick for New York City’s public artwork of the decade (since you were about to ask): Roxy Paine‘s stainless steel trees and boulders in Madison Square Park in 2007, fitting expressions of both cold ambition and organic frailty.