Once upon a time, in a faraway land (Manhattan), there was a four-story-tall Puppy with a pelt of flowers who sit-stayed all summer in Rockfeller Center. People loved Puppy and Puppy loved people, but it took another 14 years for artist Jeff Koons to plant another giant topiary in New York City.
On June 25, the iconic spot – occupied by a huge Christmas tree during the holidays – will welcome Split-Rocker, a playful piece festooned in 50,000 flowering plants – petunias, begonias, geraniums, marigolds – an amazing Technicolor dreamcoat not unlike this bead-bedazzled bib by Roarke New York.
Reflecting Koons’ enduring interest with dichotomy and in-between states, Split-Rocker splices the profiles of two kindred but different toys: a toy pony (belonging to one of his sons) and a toy dinosaur. The halves meet in a rakish seam, exposing the steel innards of the sculpture, inviting a slice of light and the suggestion of shelter. For all of Puppy’s sculptural heft, Split-Rocker reads as architectural, hollow. Only two editions exist: Koons owns the one bound for Rockefeller Center while the other lives at Glenstone, a private museum in Potomac, MD. Presented by Gagosian Gallery and organized by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer, Split-Rocker opens June 25 and runs through Sept. 12, coinciding with the Whitney Museum of American Art’s “Jeff Koons: The Retrospective” at the Whitney Museum of American Art (June 27 to October 19). Unlike the museum pieces, the two-faced topiary will morph over the summer as its foliage fur grows and flowers, watered by an extensive inner irrigation system. May Split-Rocker please the people as much as Puppy did.