Echoes of Louis XIV

August 25, 2009
uncategorized

Tom’s post yesterday about art and the “lattice of coincidence” really struck a chord with me. Just as he noticed a recurring Pompeii theme at MOCA and at LACMA, I’ve come across another subject that’s made a couple of simultaneous appearances around town. He’s more than mere subject actually; he’s a king. Louis XIV, to be specific. You can see him in the Getty’s current show, Cast in Bronze: French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution French Bronzes,  and you can also catch him on the third floor of BCAM, courtesy Jeff Koons.

François Girardon, “Louis XIV on Horseback,” 1696, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, London, England, 31359, The Royal Collection, © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

François Girardon, “Louis XIV on Horseback,” 1696, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, London, England, 31359, The Royal Collection, © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Jeff Koons, “Louis XIV,” 1986, The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica

Jeff Koons, “Louis XIV,” 1986, The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica

These depictions look a lot alike to me, though they are separated by centuries (1696 vs. 1986) and materials (bronze vs. steel). A quote from Jeff Koons, who made the sculpture on view at LACMA:

'Statuary' presents a panoramic view of society: on one side there is Louis XIV and on the other side there is Bob Hope. If you put art in the hands of the monarch it will reflect his ego and eventually become decorative. If you put art in the hands of the masses, it will reflect mass ego and eventually become decorative. If you put art in the hands of Jeff Koons it will reflect my ego and eventually become decorative.

The Jeff Koons Handbook (London: Anthony d'Offay Gallery, 1992), p. 76.

Allison Agsten