Since I finished binging The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, I’ve been hankering for another great class to teach me all about art and how to make art.
Enter Jeff Koons Teaches Art And Creativity on Masterclass.
I’ve been following Masterclass’s courses in my reviews for a long time now, so I definitely had to check out this new one.
But was it worth it? Did I learn how to become a multi-millionaire artist?
Read my comprehensive review to find out!
Who is Jeff Koons
Jeff Koons is a contemporary American artist. He’s most known for his gigantic balloon animals. Like this one.
He holds the record for most expensive work sold at auction by a living artist for his sculpture rabbit. It sold for over $91 million
His art is often described as neo-pop and often has very playful, colorful, and imaginative qualities.
Critical opinion has often been polarized, with many critics deriding his work as kitsch, with others describing his work as magnificent and filled with presence.
Me personally, I think his work is pretty damned cool. His Masterclass presented me with the opportunity to really dive into his headspace — and hopefully learn a little along the way!
What is the Jeff Koons Masterclass?
Jeff Koons teaches a 2-hour(ish) class on Art and Creativity on the platform Masterclass.
As a quick catch-up, Masterclass is a platform where masters in their field (like Jeff Koons in Art or Shonda Rhimes in television) teach a multi-houred class that is broken up into a series of video clips that are accompanied by a PDF workbook.
Jeff Koons’s Masterclass is no different. He has 13 videos where he walks you through his philosophy on art and creation. Along the way, he examines some of his own popular works and gives you his perspective and thinking that went into their creation.
Some of the lessons are:
- Approaching the blank canvas
- The Power of Color
- Showing your art
And many more! It’s a nice mixture of video clips that give you direct advice and others that function as retrospectives on Koons’s own work.
Like every class on Masterclass, Koons’s class comes with a downloadable workbook. It runs 36 pages, and functions as a mini-reference for a lot of the theories, concepts, and pieces that Koons mentions.
Who is this class for?
This class is for anyone who is interested in hearing a great living artist speak about his art and art in general. His 2-hour Masterclass functions as a “philosophy of art” course as opposed to a step-by-step process for the creation of art.
On Masterclass proper, there seem to be two types of classes: those that function as part philosophy courses part retrospective, and then there are others that function as step-by-step guides on how to create a specific craft.
Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller’s cooking classes would be in the latter, along with Neil Gaiman’s writing course.
Jeff Koons’s class is definitely in the former camp. There are no assignments for you to complete, nor is there much you’d discuss about in the message boards. Instead, this feels like a one-sided, albeit pleasant and intellectually stimulating, conversation with Jeff Koons about how art functions.
This seems to be a growing trend I’ve noticed on Masterclass; more recent classes have been trending away from giving you proper tasks and homework. Now, the trend is more toward having Masters give a general lecture on their craft. With Koons, the material is lively, thoughtful, and engaging. I did feel that I came out of the class with a better understanding of art theory.
Who is this class not for?
This class is not for anyone who wants a “teach me how to paint” class. By this, I mean that Koons’s Masterclass is no Bob Ross Joy of Painting. If you’re looking for a class that will give you a finished product, then I suggest you look elsewhere.
Additionally, if you don’t like Koons’s art, this won’t convince you otherwise. I personally really like his work, but I understand that he is polarizing. This class is a celebration of his work.
How much does Jeff Koons’s Masterclass cost?
There are now two ways to access the Jeff Koons MasterClass.
The first way is to purchase the class for yourself as a gift. It’s not the easiest thing to find. Scroll to the Jeff Koons MasterClass landing page. At the bottom, click the “give as a gift.” Then gift it to yourself. This costs $90.
The second way to access the class is through MasterClass’s annual membership called the All-Access Pass. This costs $180.
What does the annual membership get you?
- An entire year’s subscription to all classes on MasterClass (over 90 classes).
- Access to community message boards
- PDF workbooks for each class
MasterClass as a whole really is bingeable learning content. It offers you literally thousands of hours of lessons in categories like cooking, writing, negotiation, and songwriting.
All of these classes are taught by world-class masters in their field (think Gordon Ramsay, Helen Mirren, Ron Finley, and Natalie Portman), giving you unprecedented insight into the creative processes of geniuses.
I like to do a quick cost comparison between a single class ($90) and the All-Access Pass ($180).
For only the price of two classes, you get access to over 90 MasterClasses for an entire year.
You can take as many classes as you like, and you can take them concurrently — allowing you to learn from multiple teachers at once.
Plus, MasterClass has a great new feature called Quick Lists. The Quick Lists organizes different lessons from a variety of courses based around themes. It’s like a playlist for learning and is a great way to discover which class you might like to take long term.
To me, the MasterClass annual membership is a great deal that keeps getting better.
What’s it like taking the Jeff Koons MasterClass
Jeff’s class runs at 2 hours and 8 minutes, divided over 13 videos.
When you sign up for his MasterClass, you’ll start with a 5-minute video called Meet Your Instructor. MasterClass has one of these for each of its courses. It’s a little meet-n-greet to get to know Jeff and see what you’ll cover.
After that, it’s off into a class called “Turn Everyday Objects Into Art.”
Turn Everyday Objects Into Art
The first thing I noted when Jeff Koons started speaking was how relaxing his voice was.
That, in this day and age, is a major positive. Listening to Jeff talk made me feel comfortable, relaxed, and ready to learn.
And learn I did!
This lesson focuses on a type of art called “readymade.” Basically, “readymade” art involves taking found objects and repositioning, recontextualizing, or otherwise modifying objects to make them into art.
Jeff Koons defines this as: “Looking at an object and pulling it from its everyday-life situation and bringing it into art where it could take on different meanings.”
He specifically talks about Marcel DuChamp’s Dadaist masterpiece “Fountain,” where DuChamp took a urinal, inverted it, and presented it as art.
I really liked this lesson because it rushes headfirst into a common criticism of modern art: “but is it art?”
To Koons, the art is in the context and the meaning that the object generates. By using readymade objects to give people that jolt of meaning and understanding, he strips away the “is it art” argument that is so common.
The art, therefore, isn’t solely dependent upon the object. It’s a dance between the object and the context.
It’s a clever little bit of art theory, but it quietly drives home the idea that anything could be art if its put into the correct dialogue.
And Koons is here to help you build that dialogue.
The Power of Color
Another class that I particularly enjoyed was The Power of Color. In this class, Jeff Koons explains how color can convey information — particularly moods as well as the passage of time.
He broke this down by looking at color gradients, specifically on cereal boxes. He walks through how the boxes go from one color (say dark blue) to another (yellow) at the top of the box, and how these gradations represent the passage of time because we connect color gradients to events that take time and mark time — like the sunrise and the sunset.
From there, it wove into a bit about Jeff’s use of color (he uses thousands of colors in his pieces) while also touching on the many artists that work for Jeff.
I bring this up because it leads me to a criticism of Jeff Koons himself: that he employs a factory of artists underneath his direction.
It’s not really a secret; Jeff Koons is quite open about this, but he serves often as a “director” rather than the literal maker of every piece of his art. And it’s no wonder, many of his pieces are massive in scale, and he produces enormous numbers of them.
It was interesting to see how he spoke about this process (or elided it), typically referring to the “artists that work with me” when it came up.
But, returning back to the class, I really liked Koons’s philosophy that he shared in the color segment. He said “there are no rules” and followed it up by saying “there’s no right way to look.” I like that. Art is subjective. Jeff Koons would know that better than anyone, as he has battled critics who deride his work, while simultaneously selling pieces at auction for the highest dollar amount ever. There aren’t any rules. Enjoy it!
Showing Your Art
One of the later classes that Jeff Koons has is “Showing Your Art,” where he examines the philosophy of displaying your art — which he calls (aptly) sharing. I particularly enjoyed how he spoke about art criticism, mainly that the art critic lacks the artist’s perspective, intention, understanding, and connection to the work. In a sense, the art critic is blindly judging the artwork, without taking into account the artist and the reality of the work required.
For some, that’s entirely the point. The product should stand on its own. For others, that’s not true. The process should be given its due. Jeff doesn’t argue that per se, but he does remind the artist that “you’re the only person that knows if anything has meaning.” That’s an important lesson for an artist to remember when facing criticism.
This lesson was a great, encouraging lesson which becomes a broadly-applicable lesson on how to believe in yourself and not take criticism to heart. It’s a great class that anybody, artist or not, could appreciate.
As a quick heads up, this workbook needs to be viewed in your PDF viewer as a double-paged book. Otherwise, it looks all chopped up and confusing. Make sure your settings are correct!
The workbook is 36 pages long and covers most of the topics that Jeff Koons discusses in his MasterClass. It has high-definition photos of his works and other major works throughout art history that he references.
It does not have any space for notes or for your own work, but it does feel more akin to a textbook than an advertisement for Jeff, so that was nice!
The Pros and Cons of Jeff Koons’s MasterClass
As with every class I’ve taken and reviewed, there were things I loved as well as a few things that I wish were different. I want to give you a well-rounded view of this MasterClass, so you can decide for yourself whether or not to purchase it.
Here we go.
There was a lot I loved about Jeff’s class. It was a refreshing and relaxing course that gave me a lot to think about.
The art philosophy
Jeff Koons does not skimp on his philosophies on art. You get a great deal of information embedded within those two hours that is very applicable as an artist and art appreciator. Not only does this philosophy help you better understand Jeff Koons’s work, but it helps you connect with the concept of art in general. I think it’s a great boost for anyone who wants to get a firm grasp of art!
The production quality
MasterClass does not skimp on the production quality, and it’s a great boost for Jeff Koons’s class. As he is an artist, the images of his art really benefit from the high-gloss, high-quality video that MasterClass provides. Everything looks appealing and enticing.
I had never heard Jeff Koons speak before taking this MasterClass. Now, all I want to do is listen to him. Not only is he inspiring and knowledgeable, he has just an awesome voice. It puts you at ease. It makes you want to learn. I felt safe learning when Jeff Koons taught.
There were a few negatives as well that I need to point out.
There’s no work for you to do
This class is an Art philosophy course. I had hoped that Jeff might do a lesson on making some 2-D or 3-D art object, and then give me the assignment to make my own piece of art.
That did not happen.
Instead, I gleaned a lot of useful and interesting art information from Jeff. But, compared to other MasterClasses, the lack of student involvement bummed me out.
This is a 2-hour class. That’s on the smaller side for some of the MasterClasses. When you purchase the All-Access Pass, it’s not a big deal, but when you pay $90 for the single class, it does feel a little light. Still, all the material he presented was great. I just wish it was a little longer.
Is there an alternative for the Jeff Koons MasterClass?
If you’re looking for another class where Jeff Koons teaches you art, there aren’t a ton of direct parallels.
There is a great HBO documentary called The Price of Everything, where Jeff Koons features heavily. I recommend it highly if you want to learn more about his practice and the contemporary art world in general.
Other than that, there’s a documentary called the Jeff Koons Show, but it’s a bit dated (it came out in 2004).
Would I recommend it?
After going through the entire Jeff Koons Masterclass, I would definitely recommend this class.
Jeff Koons’s MasterClass is an engaging, if short, class on the philosophy of art. It doesn’t have as much depth as other MasterClasses, nor does it have assignments for students.
It does, however, have a tremendous amount of philosophy and wisdom that art lovers will appreciate. Jeff Koons is a very impressive artist, and I walked away from this class with a newfound appreciation for his approach.
The All-Access Pass would be my preferred way to access this MasterClass, as it gives you access to 90+ classes for the price of only 2 “gifted” Masterclasses.
It’s an engaging course that makes you think!
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