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New York magazine's art critic Jerry Saltz enjoys thinking up vicious insults for Jeff Koons, even when he ultimately finds reason to praise the pop artist—but Koons' latest work, a sculpture of Lady Gaga for her new album cover, simply fills Saltz with vitriol. Here's a brief history of the complicated relationship between Saltz's words and Koon's work.

The Name-Calling

Saltz has taken to coming up with nasty epithets for Koons. For instance: 

  • "Idiot savant." — July 2013
  • "a happy hotshot in a suit, serving as crystal meth to big-game-­buying megacollectors and auction ­houses" — May 2013
  • "a self-styled weird Mitt Romney–like family man, a hollowed-out Howdy Doody" — May 2013
  • "the art- world's own private Teletubby" — October 2013

The Praise

Saltz doesn't always go negative on Koons, though his name-calling seems to have gotten creative in recent months, he has also had good words for Koons work. 

  • "Whether you like his work or not, Koons allows you to toggle between abstraction and reality like few other contemporary artists." — July 2008
  • "his work retains the essential ingredient that, to my mind, is necessary to all great art: strangeness" — December 2009
  • "The paradoxes and inversions I saw at Zwirner, coupled with Koons’s ability to make art that can seemingly be dismissed as an easy one-liner but then fool the mind, suggests that he still has real phenomenological magic up his sculptural sleeve." — May 2013

The Gaga

In addition to doling out that "Teletubby" insult mentioned above, Saltz found Gaga as a reason to excoriate Koons: 

  • "The image looks like a crappy version of a Roy Lichtenstein sculpture or a cheesecake blow-up doll from an old 42nd Street porno shop, or a misogynist Barbara Kruger poster."
  • "Whatever all this neo-Cicciolina bs is all about, graphically it looks like the rinky-dink work of some bottoming-out artist. The thing might have been better if Koons had cast the art world's Lady Gaga — that'd be Larry Gagosian — and placed a ball between his legs. Either way, as Mr. T said, 'I pity the fool.'"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.