Jeff Koons’s planned sculpture for LACMA is getting a lot of press these days. Though it’s not really clear why. The project has been around for some time. Culture Monster’s Christopher Knight looks at a few aspects of the work, though mysteriously he ends with a comparison to Roman sculpture that sold for an equivalent price in 2007.
At LACMA’s blog Unframed, John Bowsher, director of special art installations, was quoted in October describing the design-process as “reverse-engineering.” An actual 1943 machine is being digitally scanned, piece by piece, so that the new parts then can be fabricated and assembled to create a shiny doppelgänger.
For comparison, what else might that kind of money buy? The Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo auctioned off its great Hellenistic/early Roman Imperial bronze “Artemis and the Stag” for $25.5 million ($28.6 million with buyer’s premium) in 2007; the unidentified European collector who bought the smaller-than-life-size sculpture placed it on long-term loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At the time, it had fetched the highest price known to have been paid for any sculpture.
Imperial Rome having gotten quite good at copying older Greek motifs, the late Hellenistic/early Roman “Artemis” represents a transition from one historical era into another. “Train,” as a simulacrum that represents the still-dawning Digital Era memorializing the passing Industrial Age, seems similarly destined.
Installation at LACMA is planned for 2012. Obviously, given the condition of Imperial America right now, fundraising for fabrication of the sculpture ought to be interesting.
Jeff Koons “Train” Would Break A Record (Culture Monster/LA Times)