“SKIN FRUIT”: First U.S. Exhibition of the Dakis Joannou Collection from Athens, Greece, to Open at New Museum

New York, – The New Museum has announced details of “Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection,” its much-anticipated exhibition curated by artist Jeff Koons. “Skin Fruit” will be the first exhibition in the United States of the Athens-based Dakis Joannou Collection, renowned as one of the leading collections of contemporary art in the world. This will also be the first exhibition curated by Koons, whose early work inspired the evolution of the Joannou collection.

“Skin Fruit” will be on view from March 3 through June 6, 2010, and will include over 100 works by 50 international artists spanning several generations. Focusing on the body in contemporary art, the exhibition will spotlight the age-old preoccupation with the human form as a vessel of and vehicle for experience. Koons’s title “Skin Fruit” alludes to notions of genesis, evolution, original sin, and sexuality. Skin and fruit evoke the essential tensions between interior and exterior, between what we see and what we consume.

Starting with the first, now-legendary exhibitions, such as “Artificial Nature” and “Post Human,” at his DESTE Foundation’s non-profit museum in Athens, Dakis Joannou has focused on works that present a new image of man. It is no coincidence that his collection developed in the cultural context of Greece, where Classical sculpture defined the Western canon of anatomical representation. Artists have arrived at a much more uncertain image of mankind in this new century, in which bodies are still idealized but also are assaulted by forces of our own making.

Joannou’s collection is comprised of more than 1,500 works by 400 contemporary artists, from the most eminent to those just emerging. For “Skin Fruit,” Koons has selected sculptures, works on paper, paintings, installations, and videos by a group of artists including David Altmejd, Janine Antoni, Matthew Barney, Nathalie Djurberg, Robert Gober, Mike Kelley, Terence Koh, Mark Manders, Paul McCarthy, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Kiki Smith, Christiana Soulou, Jannis Varelas, Kara Walker, and Andro Wekua, among others.

The show will also premiere new works such as Charles Ray’s re-envisioned “Revolution Counter-Revolution” (1990/2010); a new public installation of Jenny Holzer’s “Selections from the Survival Series” (1984); and a special 3-D book project by Italian artist Robert Cuoghi, and will include living sculptures by Pawel Althamer and Tino Sehgal.

“Skin Fruit” will feature only one work by Koons—his One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985)—the first major artwork that Dakis Joannou acquired, initiating the collection that would grow to be one of the world’s finest. Within the context of the exhibition this influential object, with its both familiar and mysterious orb suspended in fluid, becomes a womb, a point of origin and of departure.

The installation for “Skin Fruit” has been conceived by Koons as a kind of panorama, with frequent shifts in scale and unconventional juxtapositions. Role-playing games and dramas occur: a man will stage a religious ritual; a sculpture literally sings out; white chocolate monuments tower above visitor’s heads; voracious creatures eat themselves and each other while bodies are buried or frozen; icons and deities are adored or dethroned.

The Imaginary Museum
With the exhibition “Skin Fruit,” the New Museum launches The Imaginary Museum, a new exhibition series that will periodically showcase leading private collections of contemporary art from around the world, providing the opportunity for rarely seen, great works of art to be accessible to a broader public.

Koons as Curator
The Museum invited Jeff Koons to curate the first in this series. Koons had his first museum exhibition at the New Museum in 1981. In addition to being one of the most accomplished artists of our time, Koons is a committed and highly informed art lover and collector whose interests span from Greek and Roman sculpture to contemporary art. Koons has said that he collects art “to have a world besides my world, to have another field of experience.” It is the combined perspective of artist, collector, and connoisseur that he brings to the task as curator of the New Museum exhibition.

Jeff Koons and Dakis Joannou have enjoyed a close friendship and artistic dialogue for nearly three decades. Joannou has been a great supporter of Koons’s work from the beginning of his career, and a large concentration of Koons’s work from all periods is at the core of the Joannou collection. Koons’s role as curator reflects the ideals at the forefront of Joannou’s collection: ongoing conversations and collaborations with artists. In addition, it also signals the New Museum’s continued experimentation with adventurous curatorial formats. With this exhibition, the Museum seeks to further dialogues about alternative collaborations and the history of artist-curated exhibitions.

About the New Museum
Founded in 1977, the New Museum is a leading destination for new art and new ideas. It is Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum and is respected internationally for the adventurousness and global scope of its curatorial program.

For more information, visit newmuseum.org

Image: Robert Gober, Untitled, 2009. Beeswax, cotton, leather, aluminum, pull tabs, human hair, and oil paint, 28 x 22 x 19 3/4 inche