Jeff Koons. Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Two Dr. J. Silver Series, One Wilson Supershot). 1985 265

Glass, painted steel, distilled water, plastic, and three basketballs, 60 5/8 x 48 3/4 x 13 1/4" (154 x 123.9 x 33.6 cm). Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser. © 2023 Jeff Koons

Artist, Jeff Koons: What we're looking at is a Three Ball 50/50 Tank from 1985. You know, the reason that I used a basketball over another object is really probably for the purity of it, that it's an inflatable, it relates to our human experience of to be alive we have to breathe. If the ball would be deflated, it would be a symbol of death. But it's inflated, so it's a symbol of life.

The balls always remain exactly 50 percent submerged below the water line, but due to vibration in the room it will move the balls either to the left or right. And that's one of the really wonderful, beautiful, chaotic aspects of the tank.

I wanted to keep these pieces very, very pure. And so I didn't want to put chemicals in the water because I wanted to keep it very, very womb-like. So there was an acceptance of a maintenance and of a degradation that can occur. Eventually the basketballs do have to be replaced, and they're just replaced with basketballs at that moment hopefully we would have two that are orange and one that would be brown.

You know, one of the interesting things about the ready-made in art—whether it's a building or whether it's an aquarium or a basketball, is that the ready-mades are really a form of acceptance of the world. So in the journey of art, in a way, the first level is self-acceptance. And then this other calling, almost like a higher level, is to be able to accept, the outside world. And I really believe that the ready-made is a metaphor for the acceptance of others.

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