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The Royal Academy Coloring Book

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Monday, 16 May 2011

The Royal Academy Coloring Book

Yesterday morning Jeff Koons' "Coloring Book" arrived to take centre stage in the Royal Academy's Annenberg courtyard in Piccadilly, London.


It was very gently unwrapped and given a final polish.

Coloring Book by Jeff Koons
It arrived fresh from the Metropolitan Museum in NYC where it was displayed on the rooftop sculpture terrace.

It is an enormously heavy, 6m high work, made from mirror-polished stainless steel. The transparent gloss paint has then been applied onto this surface. This high tech paint finish is apparently more advanced than the best paintwork on a Rolls Royce, as painting on a “mirror” gives the paint absolutely no "tack", nothing to cling to.

The work seems to be a high tech homage to Leonardo Da Vinci who used to build up a canvas by first applying multiple layers of varnish, then he applied pigment in thin layers to build an image and then finished each work with more varnish. Light hitting the surface would pass through the outer varnish and the pigment layers to be reflected back out by the varnished base layer, giving a luminescent effect, this was particularly noticeable and effective on faces. Faces literally glowed from the back lighting. No extant Leonardo shows this effect in full, most have had the top layers of varnish, if not the pigment layers below as well, badly damaged by cleaning.

The work certainly catches and engages the eye. Not only do the colours genuinely glow but displayed in the centre of the symmetrical courtyard, the reflective surfaces give an illusion of the whole work being transparent.

Anyway, yesterday morning the weather was quite grey, I will return on a sunny day to see and snap the full effect.


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