What’s the key to contemporary art success? Ask Jeff Koons!

In his first class for MasterClass, subversive American artist Jeff Koons teaches the tricks of the contemporary art trade

A man with bunny
(Image credit: Courtesy of MasterClass)

When mulling over a career in contemporary art, one might consider bending the ear of one of the most distinctive, divisive and expensive names in the game. 

In his first-ever lesson for MasterClass – the streaming platform where members can learn from the ‘world’s best’ in a range of fields – Jeff Koons teaches the art of trusting instincts and spinning everyday objects and experiences into source material. ‘Art can be a vehicle that lets us transcend the self and through generosity lets us share this transcendence with the external world,’ says Koons. ‘In my MasterClass, I’m going to ask you to be courageous, confident and not think of art as the finished product but as a process of becoming something vaster.’ 

Taking his iconic Balloon Dog as a case study, the artist and former Wallpaper* Guest Editor takes a deep dive into his own career, offering participants access to the inner workings of his very singular art creation processes. Members will learn how to defamiliarise familiar objects and elevate the banal to high art through immense scale, arresting colour and innovative technology.

A dog is made with twisted balloon

(Image credit: courtesy of Jeff Koons Studio)

A sculpture of beautiful girl

Above: Balloon Dog. Below: Pink Ballerina.

(Image credit: courtesy of Jeff Koons Studio)

Koons admirers might be particularly enticed by a rare opportunity to step behind the curtain into the artist’s stoneworking facility for a sneak peek at Pink Ballerina, an until now unseen sculpture that has been in the works for almost a decade.

In his class, Koons breaks down the ‘major building blocks’ of art: colour, texture, scale and form. ‘Ideas come from sensations. You don’t have ideas without having sensations’, he explains in his MasterClass trailer. ‘The art is never in the painting that you’re looking at, or the surface of a sculpture. The art is inside you.’ 

So how might one blaze a similar trail to Koons’? Concluding on a humble, uplifting, and somewhat reassuring note, the world-leading contemporary artist admits that there is, in fact, nothing special about him. ‘There’s nothing special about my experiences other than they were my experiences and I’ve embraced them.’ he says. ‘Your experiences, everything about you, it’s perfect.’

Trailer for Jeff Koons’ MasterClass lesson. Courtesy of MasterClass


Koons’ lesson is now available on MasterClass with an annual membership


Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.