If one is an avid collector of artistic images, then he or she is bound to stumble across things that seem connected somehow. This is how I discovered the Fränzi Fuhrmann connection among the German Expressionist painters known Die Brücke. So, one day I happened to recognize that an image I had in my collection of a Jeff Koons sculpture closely resembled a photograph I also had in my collection. With a little bit of searching I discovered it was a photo by Jean François Bauret, though not having a title for the photo to confirm it, I am not even certain it is a Bauret photo. I have not been able to find it anywhere else on the internet, and that is a problem. With rare pieces like this I prefer to find at least two versions of it correctly labeled so that I am not just repeating someone else’s error (if an error was made.) Pictures of the Koons sculpture, however, are more readily available on the internet.
Now, with regard to the Bauret photo, ordinarily I would not post images with such flimsy credit information, or at least not as labeled. I might list them under the ‘Artist Unknown’ marker. But in this case the mystery confounds me enough that I am posting both of these in the hope that someone out there might have more accurate information and/or a higher quality version of the photo. In any case it is quite clear to me that Koons ripped off Bauret’s photo, or maybe Bauret took the photo for Koons to model his sculpture on. Who knows? One is hard-pressed to find any real connection between these two artists though. Jean François Bauret is a classic art photographer who began his career in the 1950s. His portraiture is pared down and elegant, his nudes very tasteful. By contrast, Jeff Koons is a postmodern pop artist in the vein of Andy Warhol, and his work is either a critique of pop culture or a shameless wallowing in it; critics are split on this. He has also used blatantly pornographic images in his work. Not that I am against porn, even as art, but Koons’ poppy, lowbrow aesthetic I think actually accentuates the trashiness of porn rather than lifting it out of its perceived trashiness. So what exactly is the connection here?
First, let’s look at the Koons sculpture. Although it is difficult to tell in photos where it is usually placed against a white background, Naked is actually life-sized, its height just under four feet (45.5 inches to be exact, or around 116 centimeters if you’re on the metric system.) But the most ironic thing about it is that it is part of a series called Banality. Essentially a postmodern commentary on kitschy but high-end objets d’art, I can see where Koons was coming from by including it there, even if I don’t necessarily agree with his assessment; however, this was created in the mid 1980s, a bit before the moral panic over child pornography really set in, and nude children in art have since become anything but banal in many people’s eyes.
And now, here’s the photo from which the sculpture was obviously inspired.
Since I’m already posting a Bauret photo, I might as well post a couple more that fit the blog’s theme. The first one is a portrait of late actor Klaus Kinski holding a small girl. The little girl’s name is Nanoï and does not appear to be of any relation to Kinski. I cannot find any information about her at all, so I am going to assume she was placed in the photo simply for the sake of contrast.
Edit: As I believed the child was actually a girl, I did not happen to look up the info on Klaus Kinski’s son Nikolai, but on a hunch I checked it just today. Ladies and gents, we have a winner. Nanhoï is in fact Nanhoï Nikolai Kinski, Klaus’s son. You can definitely see the family resemblance here. My confusion over this stemmed from the fact that I have never heard or read of him referred to by his first name, only by his middle name, Nikolai. Anyway, even though it is a boy I am going to leave the image up, as I find it to be rather charming.
The cover of a photo book about twins. The French have two words for twins, depending on gender: ‘jumeau’ (plural ‘jumeaux’) refers to a male twin and ‘jumelle’ (plural ‘jumelles’) to a female twin; hence, the title . . .
Jeff Koons (official site)
Jean François Bauret (official site)
Wikipedia: Jean François Bauret (text in French)