U.S. Artist to Erect Installation for Hamburg′s Red Light District | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 02.05.2003
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


U.S. Artist to Erect Installation for Hamburg's Red Light District

Controversial American artist Jeff Koons is to build a huge art installation above Hamburg's sex and entertainment district.


American artist Jeff Koons is to bring art to Hamburg's red light district.

Jeff Koons, the American-born former stockbroker turned artist, is to reinvent a public square in Hamburg's red light district.

Koons -- famous for making sculptures of himself having sex with his ex-wife, a porn star and former Italian politician, -- will build the massive art installation above the Reeperbahn, ( Rope Walk) in the Free Hanseatic city's St. Pauli quarter, which boasts numerous sex theaters, bars and restaurants.

A rope moustache and multicolored swim rings

Koons design reflects just exactly what goes on in a part of town where one visitor commented "some women will just come up to you and offer you a ride." Two 110-meter (361 foot) tall cranes will be erected above the square, which will hold a massive moustache-shaped rope creation. Onto that, Koons plans to slip two 20-meter high multicolored swim rings.

"The square is big," Jeff Koons said. "It needs something dramatic."

The installation -- which will cost around €5 million ($5.6 million) -- will also include huge white seaman's knots, a reminder of the rope-making which used to go on on the Reeperbahn in the 19th century, before the sex workers and bar owners arrived. The city-state of Hamburg will pick up part of the tab, with private sponsors paying for the rest.

Never shy of beating his own drum, Koons ("I really believe I'm going to be a major, major player in end-of-the-century art") is convinced his work will be a hit. As the plans were unveiled on Tuesday, the 48-year-old declared the installation would be "one of the most important pieces of art in the 21st century." He said he hoped the piece would be comparable to the Acropolis and the Eiffel Tower.

Hamburg Senator Mario Mettbach said the installation "would finally help to bring back meaning to the historic square."

A controversial choice

Koons' design was chosen after the French artist Nikki de Saint Phalle -- who was due to revamp the square -- died. Although his work has already been shown in Berlin, Koons is nonetheless a surprising choice for the north German port city, which is renowned for its conservatism.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1955, Koons began his career as a cotton trader on the New York stock exchange, a job he used to finance his burgeoning art career in the late 1970s.

As well as making art which explores the themes of spirituality and death, Koons is famous for entering the realms of pop culture and focusing heavily on sex.

In the late 1980s, Koons made sculptures and prints of himself and his former wife, Ilona Staller, in various sexual positions. He is also known for sculpting Michael Jackson and his pet monkey, Bubbles, in ceramic and gold.

Generation X author Douglas Coupland, who studied at art school with Koons, has called him "a liberating figure," someone "who gave artists the permission to use pop culture byproducts in previously forbidden ways."

Work on Koon's installation will begin later this year. It is due to be completed by the end of 2004.