Art bro Jeff Koons, who you might know from his giant metallic balloon sculptures, is notorious when it comes to copying other people’s art and objects.
In the ‘90s he was sued, and lost, for creating the sculpture “String of Puppies” based on a postcard without the original postcard creator’s permission. He’s been sued several times since for copying vintage ads, the Garfield character Odie, other people’s photographs and more. Now, his recently erected “Seated Ballerina,” a huge balloon sculpture currently sitting at Rockefeller Center, is getting called out for being based on work by someone else.
Initial publicity materials for “Seated Ballerina” claim that Koons based his sculpture off of a porcelain figure “found at a Russian factory at the turn of the 20th century,” but a New York-based Georgian artist Lado Pochkhua points out in a Facebook post that the sculpture looks exactly like a porcelain figure designed by Ukrainian artist Oksana Zhnikrup. Zhnikrup was born in 1931 and began working for the Kiev Experimental Art Ceramics Factory in 1955. Since then her works have been included in the National Museum of Ukrainian Folk Decorative Arts and exhibited worldwide.
A spokesperson for Koons said that the artist is aware of Zhnikrup’s sculpture and has a license to use it for his piece. But it’s funny that Koons downplayed his source material as if it were a found piece of porcelain he just happened to discover, rather than the work of a celebrated Ukranian woman artist. If he couldn’t pull off seamless “borrowing” in the 1990s he certainly can’t pull if off now, when we can just Google and find the receipts!