Artist Jeff Koons to send sculptures to the moon

30 Mar

Jeff Koons holds his hands out, standing behind the sculpture Rabbit which looks like a silvery balloon in the shape of a rabbit. 

US artist Jeff Koons has announced that he will send some of his own sculptures to the moon later this year, which will then be sold on earth in the form of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), the digital assets that are shaking the contemporary art market. "I am very excited to announce my first-ever NFT project, 'Moon Phases,' rooted in humanistic and philosophical thought," the artist wrote in a Twitter post.

"Space explorations have given us a perspective of our ability to transcend worldly constraints," he adds in the post. Accompanying the tweet is a video in which a wide-eyed Koons speaks about achievements of humanity in front of a circular light projection — like a child putting on a shadow play.

"Space explorations have given us a perspective of our ability to transcend worldly constraints. These ideas are central to my NFT project, which can be understood as a continuation and celebration of humanity's aspirational accomplishments within and beyond our own planet," the artist says in the video.

Koons is famous for kitschy, giant sculptures, such as "Balloon Dog" and "Rabbit." The latter, one of three identical stainless steel sculptures from 1986, currently holds the record for the most expensive work sold by a living artist at auction, fetching $91 million (€82 million) at Christie's in 2019. The US pop artist has a net worth estimated at $400 million (€359 million). 

Shoot for the moon

The details of the project have not yet been revealed. Pace Gallery in New York City, which represents Koons, has not yet announced the number or size of the moon-bound sculptures, but it has said the works will be left permanently on the lunar surface in a transparent, thermally coated miniature satellite. Launching the spacecraft is private US company Intuitive Machines.

The gallery announced they plan to land the objects on a part of the moon called the Oceanus Procellarum, located on the near side of the planet, which faces the earth. On average, it takes about three days to travel the 240,000 miles (386,400 kilometers) between earth and the moon.

The gallery plans for the landing area are to become a "lunar heritage site." NASA is aiming to do a test flight of the satellite, called Artemis 1 — which will be an unmanned lunar mission — in May. The actual landing with crew and art on board will likely take place in 2026 at the earliest. The gallery announced it will reveal further details about the lunar-bound works in the coming weeks. Visitors stand next to an artwork by Jeff Koons entitled Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold).

One giant NFT for mankind

One NFT of each sculpture on the moon will be offered via Pace Gallery's NFT platform Pace Verso. According to a release by the gallery, "proceeds from one of the first NFT sales will be donated to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres."

Some in the media have poked fun at the venture, with art news site Hypoallergic saying it makes "too much sense" that Koons' work should go to space, as "these days, outer space has become a go-to destination for people who hope to distinguish themselves as especially rich and awful."

While his gallery noted that the project would mark 50 years since America's last crewed trip to the Moon, Koons is unlikely to be the last artist to join the space race. Vogue magazine reported that competing space company Astrobotic also has plans to send an artwork by Dubai-based artist Sacha Jafri.


Author Sarah Hucal

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