Jeff Koons: Seated Ballerina (2017)

Masterpieces of modern/contemporary art #13

Jakob Zaaiman
7 min readMar 21, 2022


Colour photo of Seated Ballerina in New York.
Seated Ballerina (2017) in New York (

(The idea behind this series is to let the individual artworks speak directly to us from their own mysterious realm, rather than interpreting and ‘explaining them away’ in conventional terms.)

Jeff Koons is one of the most difficult contemporary artists to write about because the ‘art’ of Jeff Koons’s ‘art’ (!) is rightfully located in a realm that most people — including art professionals and critics — don’t seem able to access. This is a great pity, as it would be fun for better writers than me to come along and be able to run with this angle, and show us what’s really going on. It would make for entertaining and informative reading. We would also learn a lot about our culture in the process.

Now ‘getting’ Jeff Koons is not about being clever, or educated, or super sensitive. Nor is it about possessing a highly refined and specialised aesthetic radar, able to pick up almost imperceptible aesthetic subtleties and arcane references and ultra-high dog-whistles. It’s none of these things; it’s simply the ability to click with what Koons is up to, and see his particular shtick for what it is. And what is that shtick? In a word, it’s the idea that aesthetic banality is as profound…