Eric Gibson in The New Criterion:
The Whitney Museum of American Art has mounted a Jeff Koons retrospective as the swansong in its uptown Breuer building before reopening in its new, Renzo Piano–designed space in Chelsea next spring.1Besides his stratospheric auction prices, Koons is famous for industrially produced pop imagery such as inflatable hearts and balloon dogs, all of it turned out on a large, sometimes gigantic scale in cheerful, candy-box colors and polished to a high, reflective sheen. According to the Whitney, it is his biggest exhibition ever, and they’ve certainly done him proud. Organized by the Whitney curator Scott Rothkopf, it displays some 150 works dating from the late 1970s to just last year, taking up more than three floors of gallery space.
If the scenario sounds familiar, it is. In 1980, prior to shutting down for a four-year renovation and expansion, the Museum of Modern Art gave over its entire building to a Picasso retrospective. The point was to go out with a bang—to affirm Picasso’s position as the most important artist of his time. The Whitney wants to go out with a bang in the same way, and has nominated Koons as its Picasso.
Why not? Koons burst on the scene in the 1980s, quickly taking his place alongside the other young art stars of the time. Yet among them, he alone has survived and thrived in the decades since.