Dirty – Jeff on Top, 1991
Oil inks on canvas
152.4 × 228.6 cm
This work is a part of a series in which Koons depicted the sexual relationship with his wife Ilona Staller, also known as Cicciolina. These provocative works show the naked couple in explicit poses and reference paintings by artists such as Edouard Manet to examine the place of sexuality in visual culture.
“When I made it, I was just thinking about the ideas around me. I was involved with banal images. I realized that people respond to banal things; they don’t accept their own history; not participating in acceptance within their own being. I started then to take that into the body. Where do people start to feel guilt and shame and rejection of the self?”
– Jeff Koons
Koons employed Ilona’s regular photographer and backdrops to create the distinctive aesthetic associated with ‘glamour’ imagery. Blurring the boundaries between fine art and pornography, Koons challenged the conventions of artistic taste, encouraging his audience to make their own decisions about what is acceptable.