Audio transcript

Jeff Koons 'Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Two Dr J Silver Series, Spalding NBA Tip-Off)'

Narrator: The art critic Louisa Buck talks about this work by Jeff Koons.

I think it's very interesting about this piece by Jeff Koons, the American artist, 'Three Ball Equilibrium', that he was working as a Wall Street banker, if not at this time, then shortly before, to subsidise these works. They are high, high production, this beautiful minimalist cube, the three basket balls in suspended animation. He's tapping into the old Marcel Duchamp ready-made object, taking a piece of everyday life from reality and making it into an art work. He's doing it with a wonderful eighties consumerist spin. He talks about how the basket ball is the symbol of American aspiration, young black Americans can become basket ball champions and so on. I'm sure all that's fair enough, but what this piece actually gives to me is the sense of the most extraordinary exuberance, this suspended equilibrium, these balls are floating in this tank of saline solution, it is at the perfect pitch, it has to be constantly renewed, it is very expensive to keep the ball in this wonderful state hovering in the air. So he is looking at minimalism, he is looking at pop, he is looking at Dada, but he is making it into a wonderful piece of eighties product. Let's not forget that when this work, or at least work from this series, was shown in the Saatchi Gallery in the late eighties, young artists, most notably Damien Hirst, looked long and hard at Jeff Koons. One only has to look at some of Damien Hirst's key art works -of animals preserved, the suspended animation objects - to give it his own very particular, very fleshy spin on the whole thing, ie. the sharks, the cows, the sheep and so on.."