Jeff Koons: “French culture has helped me to capture the human potential in art”

Published on 12.06.2017
American artist Jeff Koons was the guest of honour at the seventh edition of the Art History Festival. Nature and the United States were the themes of this year’s event, which drew a record 45,000 visitors to Fontainebleau over the course of its three days.
Jeff Koons lors de la cérémonie d'ouverture du Festival de l'histoire de l'art - Juin 2017

“Through my art, I’ve tried to battle against all forms of segregation. My work is all about acceptance,” pondered Jeff Koons during a stay in France to present his personal collection at the Art History Festival, which took place in Fontainebleau between 2–4 June.

The 62-year-old artist, renowned for his often controversial sculptures such as 1986’s huge inflatable stainless steel rabbit or the giant lobster exhibited at the Palace of Versailles in 2008, is also a passionate collector. In front of a full house at the opening of the festival, this pioneer of contemporary art revealed the important influence that ancient Egyptian sculptures and certain paintings by Rubens and Picasso had had on his work. He was also able to share original canvases by Fragonard and Courbet, some of which exude sensuality and humour, and the anxious sketches of his compatriot Cy Twombly, a tribute to the transcendence and simplicity of their forms.

While in Fontainebleau, Jeff Koons also took the opportunity to speak about his love for French culture. “Art is human potential,” he explained in reference to his favourite features of Paris, including “the Louvre, the Grand Palais, the Musée d’Orsay, but also the hustle and bustle of the streets”.