Following our September post “New line of Jeff Koons watches by Ikepod sparks discussion on the subject of market necessity” which mulled the longevity of the phenomenon of art-luxury commercial tie-ins and tempted the end to superfluous purchasing and the production of worthless (in a practical sense) merchandise, Marc Newsom’s watch company, Ikepod, have despite our best efforts gone ahead with production of a special version of their Horizon timepiece entitled “Cannonball.” Designed by famed American pop-artist Jeff Koons it is the company’s first artist-designed watch and rumor has it that it will go on sale for $15,675 (its made from titanium).
On the subject of art and luxury, and how many of these partnerships can be boiled down to market necessity, Nick Foulkes of Newsweek commented in July of this year after Vacheron’s line of $367,000 watches inspired by African and Oceanic masks were exhibited at the MET and reports began circulating that Jeff Koons was working on a new line of watches from Ikepod that the world of haute horlogerie was vouchsafing a moment of artistic epiphany and that the hour of wrist-mounted masterpieces might finally be upon us. His piece illustrated how the separate spheres inhabited by the arts and luxury brands, rather than being entirely separate, have a symbiotic, Venn diagrammatic relationship:
“The exhibition [at the MET] culminates a three-year collaboration between Vacheron and the Barbier-Mueller Museum, which has resulted in a series of watches known simply as the Masks. Bold and eerie— not to mention, at $370,000 for a set of four, a serious investment—these watches combine the craftsmanship husbanded by Vacheron with the jewels of a unique art collection. Similarly, Ikepod is coming out with a watch designed by artist Jeff Koons. Although they differ in style and price (the Koons watch will sell for $15,675 in titanium), these two offerings are symptomatic of a growing interest in “art products.” According to Louis Vuitton, the term was coined by the artist Takashi Murakami, whose work has appeared on the luggage maker’s monogrammed canvas. There was a time when artists inhabited an altogether loftier plane than the purveyors of luxury goods. There were occasional crossovers, such as Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian-inspired dress and Château Mouton Rothschild’s artist-designed wine labels. But rarely did the twain meet.” [read more]
Despite being on the precipice of an economic collapse Faulkes’ words rang true. It seems that when the chips are down, our consumer culture just keeps on trucking; only instead of buying up big expensive art works, we go for smaller, relatively inexpensive collectible trinkets and the machines of production all scale down to accommodate the shift. The priority of big name artists like Koons, having provided original contributions to culture, is now like any layman: to get paid. So when cash flow is interrupted or indefinitely threatened, artists, like actors who stoop to doing commercials, find other means of making money.
The more we think about it, the more we like this watch. Sure it doesn’t have what an art work has, but in many ways its far more valuable as a cultural document. Instead of furthering the progression of art by commenting within an comparatively limited field of reference, this watch, which we should all strap to our wrists as a haunting reminder of our civilization, speaks volumes on subjects ranging from economics to the very fiber of our beings; virtues, sins and all. Koon’s legacy then is perhaps not, as most presume, an inclusive playful approach to art, but rather a fundamentally misanthropic approach to production. The last laugh, which will certainly be his if we are naive enough to continue to shower him with praise, will then echo in a world devoid of beauty save for big shiny sculptures, dastardly monuments to its inhabitants gullibility.
This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.