On Wednesday night, the 18-month old LA Art House hosted a private conversation- a salon of sorts- with two very successful creative minds in association with Hammer Projects and Christie's. A small group of attendees listened as modern art icon Jeff Koons and film producer-extraordinaire Brian Grazer discussed art, film, and what it all means - an intimate and more inviting version of the Sundance Channel's series, "Iconoclasts." The evening's hosts, Margaret Perenchio and Carole Bayer-Sager, joined some of LA's most influential art lovers from Eli and Edythe Broad to Michael and Katherine Govan and Michael and Eva Chow.
Photos By Stefanie Keenan
Grazer and Koons, both clad in suits, were difficult to distinguish from one another, save for Grazer's hair, which Bayer-Sager called "a hair cut that Jeff Koons should sculpt." Having known each other since Grazer's first visit to Koons' studio in 1994, the two men peppered their discussion with personal stories from their history as friends. Koons reminisced that his "assistants took down all the ladders because they knew how superstitious [he is]," while Grazer openly admitted that he prefers making films with male leads, as there's "great evidence to show [he doesn't] understand women very well," referring to his multiple divorces. He mentioned that does paint women, though. "Mostly Barbies," Grazer said, "Barbies that don't exist. Like 666 Barbie."
Speaking on how they fuel their creativity and inspire truthful, relevant narratives, Grazer told of initiating meetings with representatives from industries outside of the film business to "inform [his] sensibility," while Koons uses "ready-made" items as his way of looking into the world and connecting with his audience. He said he "strive[s] to make a gesture that will reveal how simple life is in [his] work." Grazer noted that even though Koons' works are generally larger than life in size and often in color, they're not intimidating to their audience - they achieve that intended connection to familiar items and emotions. Koons replied simply, "art should take you to the most profound place that you're open to."
In connection with the new Renzo Piano building at LACMA set to open this fall, Koons discussed potential plans to build a large crane with a 1943 locomotive engine at its base that will be fully functional, making the "anthropomorphic" sounds a regular engine does to represent power and industry. As Koons imitated the inhaling and exhaling sounds a train engine makes, an audience member asked what it would run on. When Grazer quipped, "money," Koons feigned embarrassment and thanked Grazer for "blowing it for [him]."
Koons memorably told of his days as a door-to-door salesman, hawking wrapping paper to his neighborhood as a teenager. Rather than being worried about rejection, Koons has a fondness of the uncertainty of those days that he still employs. "You never knew who was going to open the door, who was going to let [him] in, and if they did, what their houses would look like." That's what he took from those days and that's what still inspires his work - looking in on the uncertainties of what he'll find in our psyche.