Jeff KOONS on Transcendence and the Timeless Meaning of his Three Famous Works - In Conversation

Less than a week ago, we saw the monumental launch of our second collaboration with Jeff KOONS at the MoMA Design Store in New York. The collection is a visual delight, showcasing some of the artist’s most iconic works and reintroducing them as skateboard art.

Upon first sight, the editions couldn’t be more different. From the pop iconography of the Pink Panther, to vacuum cleaners and floating basketballs, the artworks are a colorful journey through opposing styles and eclectic references. However, those familiar with KOONS’ vision will immediately recognize that what’s at play here is far more complex than just intriguing visuals. Throughout his career, KOONS has been observing the multi-layered meanings behind everyday objects and transforming them into larger commentaries on society, culture and the human experience. The artworks featured here are taken from his famous series The New, Banality and Equilibrium - each distinctively unique but binded by an invisible thread of philosophical significance. In an exclusive interview, the artist sheds more light on this fascinating significance, the connection between skate and art and his drive for social impact.

Which artworks have you chosen to showcase in this new collection?

Jeff KOONS: Working with THE SKATEROOM, we’ve been able to highlight three individual works from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City: Pink Panther, New Shelton Wet/Dry 10 Gallon Doubledecker and Three Ball 50/50 Tank. What’s fantastic is being able to make skateboards which are a wonderful symbol of reaching out to a community which the youth has interest in.

The works were all created in the 1980’s. Have their meanings changed for you throughout the decades?

JK: To me, the meanings are still there. The Pink Panther is very much about the sensual quality of the world. The dislocated imagery, the overlap of media and information, and how some of it can seem banal but this is what we experience in life. The Equilibrium Tanks are very much about existentialism and either/or, being/nothingness - this type of dualism. The New is about the confrontation of the inanimate world with the animate world, which is really better prepared to enter the realm of the eternal. A new object that’s had its integrity from birth and can just display in its newness, whereas an individual has to really develop their integrity by participating. That type of gestalt is what is experienced in The New.

Why is this collection special to you?

JK: This is the second collaboration with THE SKATEROOM. It’s wonderful to join forces again. Skateboarding unites people, it brings them together. It shares an interest within a community. One of the interests that I share with THE SKATEROOM is philanthropy. Through this collection we are able to help ICMEC - the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, to protect children throughout the world from sexual exploitation and all other forms of exploitation.

Is there a link between being an artist and being a skater?

JK: I can see a connection between being an artist and a skater. It’s about being able to understand the forces in life. If you’re skating, you’re dealing with the topography and you have to get along with it. You can use all the skills that you develop and employ them, but there are certain moments when you just have to go with the topography and to use the energy that it’s giving you. And it’s the same with the arts. Art is about having enough self-confidence to open yourself up to the world, to have enough trust in that interaction. The information is automatically brought back within yourself and you transcend. You become another person and you’re able to go back into the world again. This back and forth is transcendence.

Jeff Koons Collection