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From a 17th century debate about painting's capacity to reflect the glory of Louis XIV

I thought I couldn't be more flattering to this great monarch, who is today the marvel of this world, than by painting him in relation to the images of the greatest of Antiquity; by presenting him valiant, generous and triumphant, I thought to have created features to make him well known.1

1 A. Félibien, "Le songe de Philimathe" in Description sommaire du château de Versailles (Paris ,1676), p. 469. Quoted in Christian Michel and Chantal Grell, L'Ecole des Princes (Paris, 1988), p. 114

Historiographer in the service of Louis XIV, Guyonnet de Vertron, defines the sovereign's grandeur as a political tool

A Model of Grandeur, Louis is similar to all the great figures of the past, however none of them can possibly resemble him, as he is only comparable to himself and Grandeur incarnate. In short, he cannot be compared.1

1 Guyonnet de Vertron, Parallèle de Louis le Grand… dédié à Mgr le Dauphin (Paris 1685), pp. 50-52. Quoted in Christian Michel and Chantal Grell, L'Ecole des Princes (Paris, 1988), p. 72.

Louis XIV to the "petite académie," an institution founded to praise the king for his contemporaries and posterity

Gentlemen, you can evaluate my regards for you when you think that I hand over to you the most precious thing that exists on earth for me: my glory 1

1 Angelica Zander Rudenstein, Interview with Richard Serra (June 1987), in Rudenstein, et al., Modern Painting, Drawing & Sculpture Collected by Emily and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., vol. IV (Cambridge: Harvard University Art Museums, 1988), p. 868.

Koons (1994)

I went back and I embraced the rococo and the baroque, embraced the work that was done by the church, to show how materialism was used in objective art before modernism. And I was kind of taking my attack against modernism.

And I showed that whomever you put in political control of art, it becomes reflective of their ego, and eventually becomes decorative. And I used Louis XIV as a symbol; if you give art to a monarchy, eventually it will reflect his ego and become just decorative.1

1 Barbaralee Diamonstein, Inside the Art World: Conversations with Barbaralee Diamonstein (New York: Rizzoli, 1994), pp. 129-130.

Koons on uses of statuary through the ages

'Statuary' presents a panoramic view of society: on one side there is Louis XIV and on the other side there is Bob Hope. If you put art in the hands of the monarch it will reflect his ego and eventually become decorative. If you put art in the hands of the masses, it will reflect mass ego and eventually become decorative. If you put art in the hands of Jeff Koons it will reflect my ego and eventually become decorative.1

1 Jeff Koons, The Jeff Koons Handbook (London: Anthony d'Offay Gallery, 1992), p. 76.

Koons on how art distinguishes the artist

I understand that art is a segregator, and the first thing that it does is segregate the person who created it…I'm trying to deal with that and not to use its segregating powers against people, but to use it…to reveal the forms of segregation. If there is anything Jeff Koons has done as an artist, it is to reveal the system…I don't maintain the system for myself. 1

1 Christian Michel and Chantal Grell, L'Ecole des Princes (Paris, 1988) p. 66 (after a manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, FF 23 991 fol. 40). Barbaralee Diamonstein, Inside the Art World: Conversations with Barbaralee Diamonstein (New York: Rizzoli, 1994), p. 131.

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Jeff Koons - Louis XIV (1986) Jeff Koons - Louis XIV (1986) Stainless Steel. The Nasher Collection, Dallas.

As King of France, Louis XIV (1638-1715) expertly controlled popular perception of his monarchy by regulating the way artists could portray him. Koons's Louis XIV is not precisely modeled on any of these authorized representations. Instead it seems based on the exaggerated idea of Louis XIV that is prevalent in our own time and on an array of 17th century artworks. The use of stainless steel, which was unknown before the 20th century, stresses this freedom from past conventions of artistic representation.