Gallerie d’Italia – Piazza Scala, Intesa Sanpaolo museum in Milan, hosts Gazing Ball (Centaur and Lapith Maiden), 2013 from 14 September until 5 December 2021, an impressive work by the American artist Jeff Koons, creating an ideal link between Milan and Florence, on the occasion of the major exhibition Jeff Koons. Shine at Palazzo Strozzi from 2 October 2021 until 30 January 2022, with Intesa Sanpaolo as its Main Partner.
The work on display in Milan belongs to the famous series Gazing Ball, in which the artist places shiny blue mirrored glass balls on faithful replicas of famous works, including paintings and sculptures by various artists: from Leonardo da Vinci to Édouard Manet, from Giotto to Vincent van Gogh, from Prassitele to Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain.
Gazing Ball (Centaur and Lapith Maiden), 2013
Gazing Ball (Centaur and Lapith Maiden) belongs to the series dedicated to classical statuary, in which Koons replicates famous sculptural groups, positioned on monumental pedestals and crafted from a white plaster specially developed by the studio of Koons, on which blue blown glass spheres are placed. Typical garden decorations of the American province, commissioned by Koons and executed by specialised professionals.
The mirrored ball is placed on a plaster cast of a grandiose marble sculpture (over two and a half metres tall and almost two metres twenty wide), part of the western pediment of the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece, depicting the fight between a centaur and a Lapith woman. Koons created the cast using one from the nineteenth century, already part of a collection from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The portrayed episode is drawn from the Greek myth of the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapiths, one of the most popular subjects in the history of classical and renaissance art, a symbol of the fight between order and chaos, civilisation and barbarity.
Combining references to history of art, the concept of ready-made and the obsession for matter and appearance, Koons creates a work that becomes a hybrid, suspended in different temporal dimensions and above all, a reflection on the relationship between the public and the work of art. The mirrored ball is the protagonist here: it attracts the gaze, captivating and bewitching the spectator, drawing them into the work, together with the surrounding environment.
On top: Jeff Koons, Gazing Ball (Centaur and Lapith Maiden), 2013. Courtesy Marco Voena. © Jeff Koons