Homage To Central Park

Central Park – Reflections at the pond

I first visited Central Park when I was attending an acting course at New York City’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts in the summer of 2014. It was quite incredible to see this huge park in the middle of a megacity like New York; when you are walking through Central Park, you start to forget about being in a city, since you find yourself immersed in a beautiful natural environment. Only the outline of skyscrapers reminds you that the park finds itself in the middle of an urban space, and it makes you feel at peace with yourself and the world around you.

I spent my first day in Central Park with my classmates walking the Mall and Literary Walk (which is lined with statues of famed writers like Shakespeare), watching soap bubble artists at work and observing trees on a wonderful summer morning, with the sun peeking through the treetops. We got French fries at Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse and spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the grass, watching the boats on the Lake and taking group pictures with my Canon 1000D.

In that month of July, we were back in Central Park to attend the Club Classics Live! concert, which was part of the line-up for the Central Park SummerStage Festival, an outdoor music festival held every year at Rumsey Playfield; it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life (videos from the event are still available on YouTube, so you will notice that the atmosphere was really one-of-a-kind). The audience was very excited to be part of it and the artists played some famous disco hits like Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real” and Ultra Naté’s “Free”. Whenever I rewatch videos from that day in Central Park I feel emotional and it brings tears of joy and nostalgia to my eyes. It was truly one of those moments when you feel part of something beautiful and engaging.

La Nature - Central Park.
Central Park Lake
Frites - Central Park.
French Fries – The Loeb Boathouse

Throwback Thursday: A Jeff Koons Retrospective At Whitney Museum – NYC, July 2014

Jeff Koons – Balloon Dog (Yellow)

“I believe in art morally. When I make an artwork, I try to use craft as a way, hopefully, to give the viewer a sense of trust.”

Jeff Koons

I attended the Jeff Koons retrospective while I was in Manhattan doing a summer acting program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

It was July 2014, my first time visiting the US, and I was eager to see and discover as much as possible, trying to make the most of my time in the city.

“Jeff Koons: A Retrospective” was the last exhibition held at the Whitney Museum of American Art old location, the Breuer building, at the corner of 75th Street and Madison Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side; the museum closed in October 2014 before relocating to its current venue at 99 Gansevoort Street, in a building designed by Renzo Piano (I visited the new location later on and it’s amazing, but I will talk about it in an article about NYC museums).

I didn’t know anything about Jeff Koons before seeing the retrospective; what brought me to see it is the fact that I am a huge fan of museums and the arts in general. This exhibition celebrated 35 years of the artist’s activity; to this day, Koons is considered one of the most popular and controversial artists of his generation.

This retrospective was his first large-scale museum presentation in New York, exploring three decades of his art and including works from each stage of his career. All the series Koons is known for were present in the exhibition: Banality, The New Equilibrium, Celebration, Inflatables and so on.

I took lots of pictures with my iPhone 5s (which is starting to have vintage vibes!) so they are in the classic Instagram square format, but there are also a couple of pictures I took with my old Canon 1000D.

What follows is a series of works by Jeff Koons I liked the most and a brief summary for each one of them. I hope you enjoy it and if you are interested, keep an eye out for when your country might held an exhibition of his (last January he was in Florence, Italy, at Palazzo Strozzi, and I was so disappointed I couldn’t see it!).

1) Cake, 1995-1997: part of the Celebration series, which finds its origins in the ups and downs of the artist’s personal life, referring to his divorce from Ilona Staller and the battle for custody of their son. Celebration is made of 16 paintings and 20 stainless steel sculptures and it draws upon the objects associated with the observance of life’s various rituals, mainly festive occasions. Cake works as a “photo-realist” painting, hypnotizing us with its kind of psychedelic colors, and according to critics the rose may symbolize beauty and the season of love. It is one of the “mass-produced objects” which often show up in Jeff Koons’s body of work. I love this painting, I saw it again at Triennale Milano in 2015 for the EXPO and the beauty of its shades of pink never ceases to amaze me.

2) Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988: part of his Banality series, this is a giant porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson, iconic pop singer, and Bubbles, his chimpanzee pet. This work was based on a press photo and Koons wants to reimagine Jackson as a god-like creature, referencing the culture of celebrity worship; it was realized in golden and white shades Rococo style. Michael Jackson seemed to channel a lot of Koons’s themes at the time: innocence, fame, caring for animals and kids. Its structure reminded me of previous classical works, and Koons himself admitted that the composition was inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà and Baroque Art in general.