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Famosart 12-13-2007 07:12 PM

Does anyone know what the colored finnish
on a koons work like the rabbit?

sculptoracat 12-25-2007 10:24 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Isn't it highly polished stainless?

Ries 12-25-2007 01:56 PM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
The Koons pieces you are referring to are the "Celebration" series, which are highly polished stainless that is then colored.
It is a bit mysterious exactly what it is.

The original bunny, from the early 80's, was merely polished stainless steel.

The current pieces, shown here

are called stainless steel with transparent color coating.
My guess is this is a transparent laquer or automotive clear coat paint sprayed over the stainless.

However its done, it beastly expensive, labor intensive, and probably a lot more fragile than you would think.
When people pay $40 million for a piece, they tend to avoid fingerprints from toddlers, banging it with furniture, or dragging their car keys on it.

Koons himself went into debt to the tune of several million dollars making this series of work, and most of that undoubtedly went to the stainless fabricators, who first had to form the things from sheet, then polish them with successive grits for weeks on end, finally buffing em, then sending them out to be clearcoated with the tint.


Looks great, but dont touch.

evaldart 12-25-2007 05:11 PM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Koons is very aware that anything with a mirror finish looks great...and the more unexpected the object the better. He has the unique ability of being willing and able to make these things happen. I can think of worse things being brought into the world.

StevenW 12-25-2007 11:53 PM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
I never really spent much time looking at his work before, some of it looks great and some looks like it's done by someone else entirely,.. Well anyway, I had heard he did some images of him and his wife having sexual relations and checked all of those out (for academic study). The actual sex seems rather vanilla from a stylistic perspective. There's some anal penetrations, which could be considered taboo by approximately 65% of the population at-large. I'm not sure what I expected, but it's a far cry from warden and the naughty escaped female prisoner or the tied up cuckold husband with a ball in his mouth and a leather mask. :rolleyes:

Maybe I expected a baloon puppy dog three-some.

woof, woof, grrrr, grrrr, pop! :)

PTsideshow 12-26-2007 05:45 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
4 Attachment(s)
You can achieve some what the type of effect with the transparent with the spray auto tinted clears. This seems to be the new choice for sockets and wrenches,coming from the far east.It is a lacquer type paint with a clear coating over it. Enclosed are a number of pictures I took for a posted thread on another forum on the coating.The coating is easily damaged even with the clear coat. The sockets are not highly polished stainless, but you get the idea. Harbor Fright has numerous examples they are selling.

Here is the canned version

They also have a transparent powder coating that is stronger for the wear.
For the info on the powder coat.

Merlion 12-26-2007 07:22 PM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
I have seen in person some colored stainless steel sculptures. I understand they are coated and perhaps baked in paints similar to those on motor car. Like cars, they can be highly buff polished and waxed. Perhaps some of Koon's earlier steel sculptures are coated this way.

But recently, as noticed by others here, his stainless steel sculptures are coated with colors that look transparent. One good example is his diamond sculptures that look like diamonds with different colors.

I don't expect Koons to do the painting and buffing himself. He just think through the ideas, investigate and pay to pursue them.

EJB 12-27-2007 08:38 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Without giving away any proprietary secrets, someone with the fabrication company explained the process for the Balloon Dog. This included many coats of clear and tinted automotive finish, roughly 6 to 12 coats as I recall. This makes the parts very difficult to handle for the large pieces that need to be assembled. The coating is so thick that it remains soft for a long period of time. Transport requires specially built crates which suspend the pieces at their connection points. In the event that a piece is scratched or damaged, it gets stripped down and the process starts all over again. $$$$
I recall seeing one of the early BUNNIES and it looked like it may have been chrome plated.
Someone in the SUPERHERO thread made reference to there not being a memorial for the unknown artist. I would nominate these works attributed to Jeff Koons. The work involved and level of craftsmanship by the fabricators are incredible. Anyone that has ever tried to mirror polish stainless or get a perfect paint finish will certainly know the difficulty of achieving these surfaces, especially on a large scale. Lots and lots of time, money and serious labor.

Merlion 12-27-2007 09:13 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
EJB, What you are talking about is the great difficulty of giving Jeff Koons' sculptures the correct shine, color and transparency. Most of us have no doubt about this.

But the credit that should be given to Jeff Koons the artist is not on this. He is not the craftsmen doing and overcoming this coating problem to perfection according to Koon's wish.

By the way, one thing I know. Grinding, polishing and buffing curved stainless steel suface to mirror finish is not easy but not uncommon. There are many manufactured products, and some artworks that require this. It is only extremely difficult and uncommon when the object is very big size, like Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate or Bean at Chicago, or his very big concave mirror. The extreme difficulty is because a number of stainless steel plates have to be welded together and pressed to precise curvatures and smooth shapes before grinding.

ironman 12-27-2007 09:45 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Hi, I don't like those highly polished pieces. If you look at the photo posted by Merlion in post #7 you will notice how the form is destroyed by the reflective finish.
So much for the sculpture.
In todays world we seem to be in an era of "FINISH FETISH" sculptors. I don't hear anyone talk about form or feeling just about the finish.
Have a great day,

GlennT 12-27-2007 10:57 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Hi Ironman:

Hadn't heard from you in a while...I'm glad you are in good form, feeling good, and not finished!

Merlion 12-28-2007 06:26 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Ironman, That sculpture of Koons shown in post #7 is supposed to look somewhat like a big colored diamond. And diamonds are highly polished, reflective and transparent.

Duck 12-28-2007 08:30 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish

Originally Posted by ironman (Post 50769)
Hi, I don't like those highly polished pieces. If you look at the photo posted by Merlion in post #7 you will notice how the form is destroyed by the reflective finish.
So much for the sculpture.
In todays world we seem to be in an era of "FINISH FETISH" sculptors. I don't hear anyone talk about form or feeling just about the finish.
Have a great day,

What? don’t think finishing has an influence on form or feeling…:confused:

Ries 12-28-2007 09:52 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
The term "Finish Fetish" is not new- it was originally tossed about in the mid 60's, referring to a group of southern california sculptors who used hot rod painting and surfboard techniques to make minimalist, but visually sparkling pieces where the intense level of perfection in the finish was in direct oppostion to the reigning styles of the time, which included artists from Giacommeti with his hand pushed clay masters, David Smith with his exposed weld assemblages, and other well known artists whose sculptures were like abstract expressionist paintings- directly worked.

Several of these artists are among some of my personal favorites.
Robert Irwin, or Larry Bell, or John McCracken, for example.

The Finish Fetish artists were trying to create work that used industrial techniques to remove the visible hand of the artist.

This school of thought has flourished, uninterrupted, since then.

There have always been a few sculptors keeping it alive, and Koons is certainly one of the most well known.

Aint nothing new.

ironman 12-28-2007 09:55 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Hi, Maybe that piece is supposed to look like a diamond but that doesn't change the fact that the reflective finish destroys the form.
I did not say that "finishing" doesn't have an influence on form or feeling, what I said was that those highly reflective finishes, and I might add "multiple colors" destroy the form. We are sculptors, we work in 3D forms, then to destroy them through a thoughtless application of highly reflective or multiple colors is ludicrous.
Now I grant you that if that piece of Koons is supposed to be a diamond it should be reflective, but that reflective finish still destroys the form with the result that the finish becomes the "subject" not the object upon which it is applied.
Last time I checked, sculptors were for the most part object makers.
We could also bring up Anish Kapoor's piece in Chicago, I think it's called the "Bean". Highly polished stainless and reflective surface, but, I believe that finish is part of the concept, to reflect the surroundings of its environment. What's real, what's reflection, where does the Bean end and reality begin? blah, blah, blah!
Oh, GlennT, I didn't say "not finished", just that some thought should go into those reflective finishes and what affect they will have on the sculptural form.
Louise Nevelson and Tony Smith both used "flat black" for most of their work, why?, because light, shadow and consequently form are better defined without reflections off of the surface.
Have a great day,

ironman 12-28-2007 10:06 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Hi, Yeah Ries, and John McCracken is probably the best, having reduced the form to a bare minimum, the sculpture becomes both subject and object as a direct result of those minimum forms which can't be either, but the surface can be and is.
This work does however blur the distinction between painting and sculpture, not that it's a bad thing.
Have a great day,

evaldart 12-28-2007 10:12 PM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
I fear the mirror finish...usurper, diminisher, TRICKSTER. Its a shortcut to significance. An obliterator of mass and volume (the stuff of...SCULPTURE) Burnishings and brushings are enough, will buy you plenty.

Those hyper-fine finishes are usually hiding something, fauxing it up. They are fragile and sensitive, even to light, and will only end up eventually exposing shortcomings. keep them on the fancy cars and the nautilus machines...those are the eyes that want it.

And Dont ever think your work can challenge any disco-ball. Just step aside, let him pass and then you can move to a place away from him, where you can be properly considered. One of those could only be more of a visual sucker-punch if it were a ball of fire. You, as a purveyor of high art, must take the high road. Flat black is VERY nice indeed.

ironman 12-29-2007 09:21 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Hi, Yeah Evaldart, those highly reflective "hyper finishes" as you call them always raise my suspicions as to the work itself.
Case in point: I recently saw a show of welded sculpture done by a young man whose family is in some sort of fabrication/ornamental iron business.
The welds were ground down as smooth as a babies behind, the finish on the pieces was gorgeous but the work had nothing to say. Too bad
the sculptor didn't learn as much about art as he did about welding, if he had, the pieces would have been magnificent.
Even the gallery owner, was mesmerized by those finishes.
Have a great day,

Tlouis 12-30-2007 10:41 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Since when has glitz been a component of fine art? Too bad we can't take these smug, self-important hucksters of flashy trash and run them though a wood chipper. Koons first. Then package the wonderfully gory but beautiful results in clear acrylic boxes and exhibit them under the title: "Non-artists Who Gave Their All For Art." It might just make up for all the shit they have produced. Poetic justice. Not possible I know, but what's wrong with a little day dreaming now and then. And no, I'm not Stephen King masquerading as Tlouis.
A Happy, Sculpture rich and glitz-free New Year to All.:)

rickb 12-07-2014 03:16 PM

KOONS STAINLESS COLOR Re: Does anyone know what the colored Finnish
Does anyone now know the ~EXACT process and materials used by Carlson for Koons outdoor sculptures like Balloon Dog? Or since so much time has passed, and other artists are doing this, the most recent, best processes/materials for transparent/colored outdoor stainless? Especially the preparation before painting?

Or a contact at the reborn(?) Carlson Arts that might be willing to share?

I have a 316 Alloy stainless steel figure that I need some transparent spot color (pants, buttons, goggle lenses). One cast will be outdoor near the the beach so I really want the materials and prep to provide the best longevity.

I have tested the look using the process below. It's essentially an automotive Kandy paint job but instead of a silvery base, the stainless does that function. It worked well from an aesthetic perspective, but I'm not sure if I have the best paints, prep and process. I'll get real specific :).

I'd really appreciate your inputs.




1. Blast:
- glass bead blast (since the sculpture will all not be polished, I prefer to start with glass beaded, vs grit blasted)

2. Sand:
- 80 grit, then 120, then 240

3. Polish:
- with pleated, stitched buffing wheel and solid polishing compound eg abulustre brand

4. Clean with paint reducer or Bulldog brand spray adhesion promotor. Wipe with tack cloth.

5. Transparent Paint Base color with automotive Polyurethane Candy (e.g. House of Kolor's Pagan Gold concentrate: kk12 mixed into VOC Matrix clearcoat MSV-21q with MHV-21 F/N/S hardener.
- About 6 coats to desired color

6. Two Coats of Catalyzed Clear immediately:
VOC Matrix clearcoat MSV-21q with MHV-21 F/N/S hardener.

ANOTHER SUGGESTED VARIANT of STEP 5 (but I am concerned about whether this will last as long.): Mix the candy color into a 1:1 transparent base (Matrix MT-96 LV) / Reducer (Matrix Advantage 116v). So this is not catalyzed and can be saved/used later.

Some related threads / links:

raspero 12-07-2014 09:47 PM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
I polish a good bit of stainless in my sculpture work.

I don't think your plan for the sanding process will do what you want. To achieve a tinted transparent finish such as Koons does you have to get the stainless polished to a mirror finish before applying the transparent coat. 240 grit sanding scratches are too large to remove with a buffing compound on a cotton wheel. Also to begin with 80 grit, unless the piece is scratched pretty badly, is usually excessive and adds to the work.

I generally begin with 150 (or 220) then 220, then 400, then 600, then usually 800. You must remove the sanding scratches left by the previous grit sandpaper before moving on to a finer grit or you will never get them out.

Then a fast cutting aluminum oxide buffing compound made for stainless will take over from there, on a hard sewn cotton wheel. Hard sewn is the operative term here.

Stainless is hard—it eats sandpaper. And hand sanding is almost useless except on tiny pieces. I mostly use a 3 inch air powered disk sander (0 — 2500 RPM) with soft pads and Velcro disks that I cut out of 25 foot rolls; otherwise the cost can get quite high.


rickb 12-08-2014 08:28 AM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish

Thanks for the suggestions. You have some beautifully mirror polished works on your site!
I will try the finer grit progression.

Regarding the eating of sandpaper, it sure does. Do you have any tips on brands or types of sandpaper? And do you buy the rolls with velcro backing?


rickb 12-27-2014 07:29 PM

Re: Does anyone know what the colored finnish
Thanks for the technical help on this. Here is the finished piece.
It is quite a process, but I am very happy with the rich, candy look and the silky feel of the the coatings.

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