Two immaculate, unused wet/dry vacuum cleaners are stacked one atop the other and hermetically sealed in Plexiglas boxes lit from below with fluorescent lights. Separated from their domestic role as cleaning machines, the objects are elevated to sculpture. "I chose the vacuum cleaner because of its anthropomorphic qualities," Koons has said. "It is a breathing machine. It also displays both male and female sexuality. It has orifices and phallic attachments." The curving armature of the hose circles the canister in an embrace, and the machine's bold maroon and gold stripes are colorful flourishes within an otherwise sterile environment.
In his varied professional past, Koons has sold memberships for MoMA and worked as a commodities broker on Wall Street. As an artist he blends the worlds of advertising, commerce, and high culture to alter the way we perceive quotidian objects and to question the boundary between art and popular culture. Like Andy Warhol with his Campbell's Soup cans and Brillo boxes, Koons elevates artifacts from everyday life, transforming mundane consumer appliances into immortal art objects. He leaves their interpretation up to the viewer.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 29