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Jeff Koons: High art or plain extravagance?

The world’s most expensive living artist discusses his work and the controversies surrounding his creations and career.

He is one of the most sought-after and successful artists of today. His works have sold for tens of millions of dollars and his fans include the likes of Hollywood magnate Jeffrey Katzenberg and Lady Gaga.

People look at the numbers and they look at the value of art, but the reason why I'm involved with art is its true value and that it's life-changing, it's transformative. I mean, it's been able to give me the intellectual, emotional life that I wanted. It can make you a better person. And that's really its value. How it connects you with what it means to be human, connects you with your community, that's the value of art.

by Jeff Koons, artist

Jeff Koons is a former Wall Street commodities trader who left the financial world to pursue his dream of becoming an artist.

His work is unique and has featured dogs, tulips, lobsters, even a large pile of playdough and cracked eggs.

Some have called his work lively and playful, while others refer to it as “childish” and “banal”, but for millions of his fans, his work stands out.

Koons’ stainless steel sculpture, Balloon Dog (Orange), was sold at an auction for $58.4m, turning him into the most expensive living artist of all time.

Throughout his career, his art has gone through several phases – from industrial production to ceramic statuettes, and even dabbling in sexuality. 

But whether you are a fan of his work – or just discovering him for the first time – Koons is at the top of his game, inhabiting the worlds of high art and popular culture.

Jeff Koons talks to Al Jazeera to discuss his work, what he aims to express through his pieces, and the controversies surrounding his creations and his career.

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