Jeff Koons plays with ideas of taste, pleasure, celebrity, and commerce. “I believe in advertisement and media completely,” he says. “My art and my personal life are based in it.” Working with seductive commercial materials (such as the high chromium stainless steel of his “Balloon Dog” sculptures or his vinyl “Inflatables”), shifts of scale, and an elaborate studio system involving many technicians, Koons turns banal objects into high art icons. His paintings and sculptures borrow widely from art-historical techniques and styles; although often seen as ironic or tongue-in-cheek, Koons insists his practice is earnest and optimistic. “I’ve always loved Surrealism and Dada and Pop, so I just follow my interests and focus on them,” he says. “When you do that, things become very metaphysical.” The “Banality” series that brought him fame in the 1980s included pseudo-Baroque sculptures of subjects like Michael Jackson with his pet ape, while his monumental topiaries, like the floral Puppy (1992), reference 17th-century French garden design.
American, b. 1955, York, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York
Julio Nieto is a multifaceted artist whose talents include sculpture, poetry, performance art, installation and design. The artist, born in the Basque Country and now a resident of Tenerife, has shown his work at numerous galleries and art fairs in Europe and the USA and his large-scale works have been displayed in public squares in a number of cities. In 2009, Nieto won the Puerto de la Cruz Honorary Distinction and his work was chosen to represent the Canary Islands at Expo 2008 in Zaragoza. He has also received various art and design awards from the Government of the Canary Islands.
“Metal Skin, street sculpture” is the culmination of five years of work by Julio Nieto. This travelling exhibition comprises seven large-scale, outdoor sculptures. From 2008 to 2012, the pieces were exhibited in cities in the Canary Islands and mainland Spain. The purpose of the project was to stimulate the imagination and communication of the general public of all ages and, as such, reinvent public spaces as the ideal setting to promote multicultural coexistence and dialogue among the local people. The building materials (steel and bronze) and dimensions of the works made them ideal for outdoor installations, however in 2013 the exhibition toured art fairs, galleries and museums all over Europe. The Metal Skin tour culminated in September 2013 in the Museu Diocesà in Barcelona.