Jeff Koons is the living artist with the most expensive art sold at auction, and also one of the greatest names of the art world.
One of his sculptural works most admired is the Cracked Egg. Today we will share with you the story behind this artwork. This was statements by John Powers, a Jeff Koons’s studio serf.
John Powers told about his experience and how the cracked egg come to life: I was assigned a new work, a painting called “Cracked Egg.” The cleaved halves of an empty eggshell were photographed against a backdrop of reflective Mylar. The photo was projected onto a blank 80-square-foot canvas and traced by hand. In the center of the room was a glass-topped table surrounded by spotlights, staffed by four painters whose sole responsibility was mixing hundreds of colors to match the original image. Each custom-mixed hue and tint was assigned a name, like cool cyan magenta nine or warm cobalt blue four. Once the drawing was complete, the sections were coded accordingly with abbreviations like CCM9 and WCB4, a taxonomy of color.
My job was simple: Paint by numbers. The most intricate sections required miniature brushes, sizes 0 and 00, their bristles no longer than an eyelash. The goal was to hand-fashion a flat, seamless surface that appeared to have been manufactured by machine, which meant there could be no visible brush strokes, no blending, no mistakes.
After five long months, the painting — my painting — was nearly complete. Silvery blue reflections of the empty egg glimmered across the canvas like mercury. But one Saturday morning, the 10-foot-high painting unexpectedly slipped free from the wall. The stretchers were rigged to a pulley system so the paintings could be raised and lowered, and I was cranking the winch when the top edge tipped forward. The painting crashed toward the center of the room. One of the other assistants turned in time to catch it. She was wearing nitrile gloves covered with cadmium, smearing the white egg with red handprints.
Everybody seemed to agree it wasn’t my fault. I hadn’t built the frame that was supposed to hold the stretcher, and nobody else had thought to tighten the screws. Koons was, if anything, sympathetic. A conservator was rushed to the studio. The canvas was laid on a bed of sawhorses and tended to like a wealthy, but terminal, patient. The surface had fractured from the fall, leaving a large spider web of cracked paint, and there was no way to restore the immaculate, machine-grade smoothness.
The painting was torn down and rolled up. Fresh canvas was laid out for a second version, and I traced the familiar image of the egg and its thousand jagged reflections by hand, in pencil, still in shock. A few weeks later, I quit.
And basically this was John Powers history of a great lifetime spent at Jeff’s studio. At the end “Cracked Egg” sold at Christie’s in London in 2003 for $501,933. At the time it was Koons’s most expensive painting.
And basically this is how an art piece can be created!