There’s a clever charity, RxArt, that puts art in the rooms where patients are undergoing the stress and fear of a CT scan. Mike Argento tells the story of how Jeff Koons came to donate work to a hospital where he’s from:
And while RxArt is happy with the artists it works with, it has always sought the great white whale of the modern art community — Jeff Koons.
“We’ve worked with some major artists in the past,” Sebastian said. “Jeff was the ultimate dream for us. We really wanted to work with Jeff.”
Koons — a Dover native — is, it almost goes without saying, huge. His work is shown around the world. His sculpture, “Hanging Heart,” sold in 2007 for $23.6 million, then the most ever paid for a work by a living artist. He broke that record the following year when another work, “Balloon Flower,” sold for $25.7 million. His work regularly sells for multiples in the seven figures and is featured in some of the world’s great art galleries. He is an institution.
It seemed daunting — a small nonprofit dedicated to cheering up hospitals getting one of the leading figures in modern art to donate some work to its cause. It turned out to be easier than they thought.
“We sent a proposal to Jeff and he went for it,” Sebastian explained.
They were hoping for a work or two to lend a cheery atmosphere to a CT-scan room at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Instead, the results were stunning.
“He completely transformed the room,” Sebastian said.
The stark white walls of the previously sterile room were painted pink, blue and yellow. A smaller version of “Hanging Heart” is suspended from the ceiling. A painting called “Donkey” covers one wall. Koons’ iconic “Balloon Dog” is attached to another wall. The CT-scan machine itself is covered with decals of Koons’ “Monkeys,” grinning cartoon simians. […]
Koons did not take a fee for the work, Sebastian said, which was good. “Jeff’s works go for much more than we could afford,” she said.
Jeff Koons art featured in hospital CT scan room (Bloomberg)