Arts & Entertainment

Personal Iconography

Jeff Koons

Lesson time 08:30 min

Jeff discusses how to use your personal iconography—the images, objects, and symbols that have meaning in your life—to communicate your point of view.

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Topics include: Case Study: Banality · Assignment: Creating Narratives


[MUSIC PLAYING] JEFF KOONS: Your personal iconography can be the images, objects, and symbols that stimulate you and have meaning in your life. In this lesson, I'm going to show you how to use your personal iconography to communicate your point of view to the viewer. I can look back and I can see a repetitive kind of iconography of images that continue to come up in my work. And one of the most prevalent would be flowers. And I think it's because, you know, I just love the idea of laying out in the yard. You know, laying in the yard and just looking up-- thinking about the vastness of life, the power of nature, and the beauty of a flower and what it symbolizes. It symbolizes being gentle and kind of kind. And at the same time, this is nature. This is something that's also ruthless and just will take any course to be able to fulfill its desire that it has. We all have different things that we enjoy that are stimulating. But the type of work that I enjoy-- the art I am interested in-- is work that visually excites me. It has a plastic quality about it. I feel my fingers want to stretch out. The hair on the back stands up a little bit-- goosebumps. I want more. When I was younger, and you've had similar experiences to this-- but I went to Marine World. And then we saw a dolphin show. And dolphins would jump up in the air, and they would do flips and they would do tricks. And I was mesmerized by this. I connect to that possibility of being excited and to have amazement, and to still have something to look forward to by working with an object like a dolphin. Working with these images has changed over the years. I'll go from the "Popeye" series of working with an inflatable dolphin to the "Antiquity" series, where I will have a dolphin with Venus riding on the back. So it continues to evolve, but always comes back to a tie to biology and a sense perception. What does it mean to be a human being? How can we get more out of this experience? [MUSIC PLAYING] I want to show you how I followed my interests to create a personal iconography which became the basis of one of my most important bodies of work. When I was a younger artist, I started to realize the power of creating a narrative. You hear about artists having exhibitions. Well, an exhibition's really an opportunity to have a larger narrative than just a single work can give. If you have a single work, you could start to tell a story. But an exhibition gives you more opportunity. It's like being able to put several words together and to create a sentence instead of just the individual word. The Banality work's a body of work that I believe for the first time I was really able to start articulating a vocabulary about the removal of judgment and acceptance. And I was coming from the perspective of basically people's histories-- economic history, social history, experiences that they've had through the life that they were born into. The work consists of everyday ob...

About the Instructor

One of the most important and influential artists working today, Jeff Koons is perhaps best known for his iconic Balloon Dog. Now he’s inviting you to an intimate, thought-provoking conversation about the history, purpose, and pleasures of art. Learn how color, scale, form, and texture can help you express ideas and communicate with others. Leave your self-judgment and fear behind—the world is waiting for your art.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons teaches you how color, scale, form, and more can help you channel your creativity and create the art that’s in you.

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