Stock Market to Art Market
A look at the career of the kitsch art king
by Anne Halliday
1955 Gloria Koons gives birth to a son, Jeffrey Lynn Koons, on January 21st in the industrial town of York, Pennsylvania.
1960 Koons's parents start their son in art lessons; he will eventually study Byzantine painting and American folk art at the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore.
1975 Koons moves to Chicago.
1976-77 Koons relocates to New York City, where he sells memberships at the Museum of Modern Art.
1979 To pay for increasingly expensive projects, Koons begins selling mutual funds and trading commodities on Wall Street. He trades a rundown apartment on the Lower East Side for a 16th Street apartment in Chelsea that serves as a studio, gallery, and living space.
1985 His first solo exhibition, Equilibrium.
1988 Banality, Koons's series of wood and porcelain sculptures including the famous gold-and-white Michael Jackson and Bubbles, is displayed in Cologne, New York, and Chicago's Donald Young Gallery.
1990 The Hungarian-born porn star Ilona Staller (La Ciccolina) collaborates with Koons on a risqué series called Made in Heaven, which tests public tolerance for Koons's work. They marry a year later.
1992 Ludwig, Staller and Koons's only child, is born. Koons completes his iconic 43-foot floral Puppy sculpture in Arolsen, Germany.
1994 Koons and Staller divorce, and a U.S. court awards Koons custody of Ludwig, but Staller “kidnaps” the boy and flies to Italy, where a court awards her custody. Heartbroken, Koons begins his Celebration series.
1995-2007 Adding to Celebration, Koons completes several works that resemble giant Mylar balloons.
2002 Koons marries Justine Wheeler, an artist who works in his studio.
2006 Balloon Flower (Red), a new Koons sculpture, is unveiled at 7 World Trade Center in New York City.
2007 Sotheby's sells Hanging Heart (Magenta, Gold), another artistic expression of the pain of losing Ludwig, for a record-breaking $23.6 million.
2008 On May 31st Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art opens the first major U.S. exhibition of Koons's work in 15 years.
Photography: The New Jeff Koons, 1980. Private collection. © Jeff Koons; Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Dr. J Silver Series), 1985. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Gerald S. Elliott Collection. © Jeff Koons; Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988. Collection San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, purchased through the Marian and Bernard Messenger Fund and restricted funds. © Jeff Koons; Pink Panther, 1988, Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Gerald S. Elliott Collection. © Jeff Koons; Triple Hulk Elvis I, 2007. Collection of William J. Bell. © Jeff Koons; Balloon Dog (Orange), 1994-2000. Private collection. © Jeff Koons