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Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

This essay discusses the sculpture Balloon Dog (yellow) (1994-2000) by American artist Jeffrey Lynn Koons (b.1955). I will explain how Koons uses the Balloon Dog (yellow) to talk about both childhood experience and sexuality, and uses these ideas to manipulate the viewers’ emotion. Jeff Koons, 1994-2000, Balloon Dog (Yellow), [High chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating, 121 x 143 x 45 inches, 307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3 cm], The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Collection, Connecticut, CT

Looking at the shape of the 10 pieces of high chromium stainless steel, I can imagine a condom rather than a sausage because blowing a balloon looks like blowing a condom. I believe that I am correct in the influence of Koon’s balloon dog, “My work is about using sexuality as a tool to communicate.” (Koons, 1992, P.36) There are lots of sexuality in Koons’ art work, such as the Doctor’s Delight (1986) and the whole series of Made in Heaven (1989-1991). I think it is very clever that he uses sexuality as a tool to capture the viewers’ desire and exploit his viewers to develop his art work in their mind. Who does not have sexuality? Even a Chinese castrated eunuch would read an Erotic figure. As Koons’ father, Henry J Koons was an interior decorator; I had a thought that his father had influenced Koons’ art work. For the idea of emotion is very important for an interior decorate design. On a different level, Koons’ balloon dog can manipulate his viewers’ emotion. If you only look at a single piece of high chromium stainless steel, what would you feel?

The pure sex is the only idea brings into my head because the smooth and tight surface of the high chromium stainless steel looks like two people are, skin to skin, having sex. In another way, the shape of the sculpture is giving me the optimistic and happy impression because the sculpture is in a balloon dog shape; I would imagine the party and celebration which are very positive. Also, comparing a real balloon dog and the balloon dog sculpture, I can see the sculpture is bigger than the real balloon dog. Another difference between the real and sculpture balloon dog is, soft and hard. ‘Hard’ and ‘Big’, these two adjective make me think of a male genital. Again! Koons successfully exploits my thoughts. He can use sexuality as a tool to communicate with his viewer. This communication has already beyond human dialogue. It is using mind and feeling to communicate. After all, the standing pose of the balloon dog has reminded me there is a condom brand called Trojan.

One of the ideas that interested me is, the pose of the balloon dog sculpture is standing upright like the Trojan Horse. Trojan Horse is a mythological story which is about the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and end the Trojan War. The Greeks built a huge wood horse and hid a lot of strong soldiers inside. They pretended they were giving the horse as a surrender gift for the Trojans so the Trojans pulled the horse into their city. At mid-night, the Greeks soldiers came out from the horse and destroyed the city of Troy. This story is full of irony but Koons says “A viewer might at first see irony in my work, but I see none at all.” (Koons, 1992, P.33) I agree with Koons. In fact, there are lots satirical art works since World War I, it might give people the wrong impression of art.

My first impression on the Balloon Dog (yellow) was happy and interesting. However, is there any hidden idea? As the Balloon Dog (yellow) is empty inside, just like the soldiers hiding ins

ide the Trojan Horse and they have a really strong killing desire in their mind. I think the viewers

will have a big impaction given by the visual effect because the surface has a reflective effect and the shape is a party dog. They remind me of feelings, memories and desires in a party or places where I have seen the balloon dog. I could remember the first time I saw a soft, little balloon dog in a birthday party. I was crazily excited and extremely happy. I immediately had a stronger desire: ‘I want it!’ It is very interesting when seeing the sculpture which is similar to the balloon dog that I have owned before. Owning a balloon dog was a joyful memory in my childhood and this balloon dog sculpture directly brought me back there and so I could embrace my joy again.

“I tell people to embrace their past, to embrace who they are.” (Koons, 1992, P.32) As the sculpture surface is reflective, I believe that Koons is trying to let us become part of his sculpture and exploiting his viewers by letting the viewers think about their past, their shame and enjoy the beauty in it. (1992, P.32) I think letting the viewers become part of the sculpture is a very creative method. When the viewers are taking a photo on the balloon dog, they are also captured in the photo. It is interesting when I am seeing me reflected on the balloon dog; I would think where I have seen this before.

Maybe this is the point why I am interested in Koons’ balloon dog- it would make me think about myself. It is a mirror reflection and looks like seeing the half of me my past, in it. It also gives me a clear reflection on how joyful I used to be, holding a balloon dog, and eating a birthday cake, when I was a child. It looks like the balloon dog is reflecting my life. I think when Koons was still a little boy, he could understand the environment can control people emotions and the way people feel. In my opinion, he is using a common object in our life to make an influence on his viewers’ feeling and ideas. I think letting his viewers become a part of the balloon dog is as same as a part of the happiness so we can think about the happiness which has happened in our life and directly embraced ourselves.

“If art is not directed toward the social, it becomes purely self-indulgent, like sex without love.” (Koons, 1992, P.36) Art can be a tool for the social because art is directly related with economics marketplace. (1992, P.36) Koons never use the figure or object which cannot affect and attract him. In the social life, there are lots of celebrations where the places we make friends and get drunk. I think balloon dogs are the ordered decorations for a celebration and it might be a reason why Koons name his Balloon Dog (Yellow) as a celebration.

It is a really good name for it because the bright, sharp and gorgeous yellow colour of the Balloon Dog (Yellow) is presenting the optimistic and happiness, just like what we feel in a celebration. We can usually see the decoration balloon dogs are in warm colours. To imagine a balloon dog is in some dark colours such as, black and dark purple, I do not think it would look positive and celebrating, I can imagine it could be fear and look evil and criminal. In my opinion, this Post-post modernism art movement is influenced by the Pop Art because it is quite society when the artist, Andy Warhol, uses the famous person such as, Marilyn to create an art work in his century, just like Koons is using a common social decoration to make the Balloon Dog (Yellow). Also, the sculpture has five versions in same shape but different bright and sharp colours. It means the Balloon Dog (Yellow) is repeating in the same theory but different colours.

In conclusion, Koons is using the Balloon Dog (Yellow) to create a conversation content about the childhood experience and sexuality with his audiences. He is also successfully controlled the audiences’ feelings.


Coles, S. & Violette, R.(1992). The Jeff Koons Handbook: London, England: Thames & Hudson Limited.

Duray, D. (2012). Jeff Koons Explains Balloon Dogs at P.S. 112. Retrieved from http://galleristny.com/2012/06/jeff-koons-explains-balloon-dogs-at-p-s-112/

Gleadell, C. (2013). Frieze New York: 80ft inflatable balloon dog sells for almost $1m. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/10057415/Frieze-New-York-80ft-inflatable-balloon-dog-sells-for-almost-1m.html

Johnson, K. (2008). A Panoramic Backdrop for Meaning and Mischief. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/arts/design/22koon.html?_r=0

Muthesius, A. (1992). Jeff Koons. New York, NY: Benedict Taschen Verlag GmbH

Russet, M. (2013). ‘Jeff Koons: New Paintings and Sculpture’ at Gagosian Gallery and ‘Jeff Koons: Gazing Ball’ at David Zwirner. Retrieved fromhttp://galleristny.com/2013/05/jeff-koons-new-paintings-and-sculptures-at-gagosian-gallery-and-jeff-koons-gazing-ball-at-david-zwirner/

Simpson, F. (1992). Jeff Koons. San Francisco, CA: Museum of Modern Art.

Sutton, B. (2012). French Street Artist Zalez Lets Jeff Koons Balloon Dog Off its Leash in Lower Manhattan. Retrieved

Sylvester, D.,& Rosenblum, R. (2000). Jeff Koons: Easyfun-Ethereal. New York, NY: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Taylor, B. (2005). Contemporary Art: Art Since 1970. London, England: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Terry, A.(1988). Jeff Koons. Chicago, IL: Museum of Contemporary Art.

Tobler, K. (2012). Jeff Koons, Mastering The Art Of Artificiality. Retrieved from http://worldcrunch.com/culture-society/jeff-koons-mastering-the-art-of-artificiality/c3s5325/


Coles, S. & Violette, R. (1992). The Jeff Koons Handbook: London, England: Thames & Hudson Limited.

Duray, D. (2012). Jeff Koons Explains Balloon Dogs at P.S. 112. Retrieved from http://galleristny.com/2012/06/jeff-koons-explains-balloon-dogs-at-p-s-112/

Sylvester, D.,& Rosenblum, R. (2000). Jeff Koons: Easyfun-Ethereal. New York, NY: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Taylor, B. (2005). Contemporary Art: Art Since 1970. London, England: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

Tobler, K. (2012). Jeff Koons, Mastering The Art Of Artificiality. [Image] Retrieved from http://worldcrunch.com/culture-society/jeff-koons-mastering-the-art-of-artificiality/c3s5325/

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