On July 16th, 1969, three American astronauts made history on board of Saturn V: Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins, became the first men to set foot on the moon during the ambitious Apollo 11 space mission, launched by the NASA. More than fifty years after this human achievement, at a time when billionaires like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk work on developing space tourism and inhabiting Mars, another famous multimillionaire thinks about his own space conquest... sending his artworks to the moon. It comes as no surprise that world-famous star of Contemporary art and father of the most expensive work sold by a living artist – Jeff Koons’ stainless-steel rabbit was auctioned for $91.1 million – is the mastermind behind this project.
The New Yorker who started a career as a trader in Wall Street now crafts a new showy and provocative Pop Art that pushes back the limits and breaks down the conventions since the 80s. As a matter of fact, he willingly combines the codes of classical history with those of mainstream culture (advertisement, pornography, firearms), infuses his works with his own personal life and intimate suggestive details, offers monumental shinny balloon-like sculptures, or installs a giant kitschy bunch of flowers in central Paris, as a tribute to the victims of the November 2015 terrorist attacks.
The question is: how will Jeff Koons send his artworks to the moon? Although the process hasn’t been detailed yet, the answer may be found at the Pace Gallery, which the artist represents. The Gallery disclosed that an undetermined number of sculptures will be sent to the moon from the Kennedy Space Center inside 10-centimeter-wide CubeSat miniature satellites later this year. With this rather spectacular initiative, the 67-year-old artist will unveil his first NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). These digital objects are unique thanks to their authentication data system. They constitute a growing trend in today’s art industry since a virtual artwork using this technique had been auctioned for $69 million in March 2021.
Like many other artists mesmerized by this new phenomenon, Jeff Koons will create his own NFTs titled “Moon Phases” with Pace Verso, his Gallery’s own platform dedicated to that technique. The process includes the sculptures’ journey into space, as well as other factors that remain undisclosed for now. Even if the American artist introduces his project as “an exploration of the imagination and technological innovation of the human race”, he is far from being the first one with a similar idea. A few weeks ago, British artist Sacha Jafri announced he was about to launch his own space expedition for his golden hearts-shaped aluminum sculpture. The artwork should be permanently installed on the moon within the following months... before Jeff Koons’ ones?