As one of the most polarizing figures in the art world, Jeff Koons continues to challenge us to think about fine art in broader terms, through works that are innovative and sometimes controversial. This past spring marked the debut of Masters, a luxurious line of bags and accessories by Louis Vuitton designed in collaboration with Koons, and inspired by the American artist’s Gazing Ball paintings. The popularity and fascination surrounding the collection subsequently and unsurprisingly prompted a second chapter. Launched in October, this latest series finds some of Louis Vuitton’s most beloved handbag styles dressed in historic paintings from cherished fine-art luminaries—François Boucher, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Nicolas Poussin, and J.M.W. Turner—whose masterpieces are as unmatched as the iconic luggage maker (and Koons himself). As with the first collection, the signature LV monogram has also been reconfigured to bear Koons’ initials. Here, the contemporary artist expands on the philosophy behind the collection.
ON HIS DESIGN PROCESS:
“One of the things I really enjoyed about working with Louis Vuitton on these bags is that both of us have great desire to use craft, materials, and detail to communicate what we really care about. I care about the viewer and the owner of the bag—not detail for detail’s sake and being able to make a stitch perfect. I hope somebody who sees a bag or acquires a bag can emotionally feel this connectivity and a sense of union, and not just with the artist of that bag.”
ON HIS INSPIRATION:
“The Gazing Ball series is a body of work that deals with humanism. The different images that I worked with for my Gazing Ball paintings, and therefore made into the Masters Collection with Louis Vuitton, are works that represent my artistic DNA. By representing these celebrated pieces of art on Louis Vuitton bags, we invite viewers to consider these works anew, opening the museum to the world and encouraging us to experience the Old Masters in novel ways.”
ON HIS COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS:
“Reclining Girl by François Boucher is a painting my family and I go to visit often in the old Alte Pinakothek in Munich. It always strikes me as one of the most sensual images ever painted. Paul Gauguin’s Delightful Land is a powerful image that features a profound representation of Eve, and, at the same time, depicts the artist’s personal iconography through its use of symbolism and colour. Manet has always been one of the most important artists to me. To work with the images of Luncheon on the Grass gave me the opportunity to emphasize the importance of artists giving it up to each other. Within Luncheon on the Grass, Manet is referring to Titian’s Pastoral Concert, as well as Raimondi’s engraving the Judgment of Paris, which was based on a drawing by Raphael. It’s a history of humanism, of artists enjoying each other’s work, and learning to find their way through each other.”
ON THE FUTURE OF ART AND FASHION:
“The idea of being able to have appreciation for things that came before us, for things outside the self—that lets us have transcendence and become broader. And it lets us change our own being. I believe that through ideas we can change ourselves. I can become a better person and I believe I can pass that on to future generations. Right now, in science we know that we can morph our mind: our genes can morph temporarily. We haven’t been able to show that we can pass it on, but I know emotionally that this happens.”
Louis Vuitton, MASTERS, A Collaboration with Jeff Koons is available at select Louis Vuitton stores.