Jeff Koons at Newport Street Gallery

Posted on October 16, 2016 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

newport street gallery


Ok, I am not a fan of Jeff Koons nor Damien Hirst, so what was I doing at Hirst's art gallery for Koons' Now exhibition? One reason: architecture. This month, Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall was named as the winner of this year’s Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building.

The 37,000 sq ft gallery facing the railway line is made up of almost an entire street of listed Victorian industrial buildings, and they were converted into one new building by the architecture firm Caruso St John. Interestingly, I took the train out of London a few months ago, and from the train window, I could see the striking red brick building with the spiky saw-tooth roof which intrigued me immensely.


newport street gallery  newport street gallery

newport street gallery


The quiet location of this gallery makes it rather special. The area hasn't been too gentrified (yet), and the nearby Vauxhall pleasure gardens offers some historical context of the area from the mid-17th century onwards.


newport street gallery  newport street gallery

newport street gallery  newport street gallery

The spiral staircases at the gallery


As soon as I entered the building, I was immediately impressed by the bright and spacious white space. The simple and minimalist interior reminds me of John Pawson's work; so it would be interesting to see how he has converted the former Commonwealth Institute into the new Design museum when it opens next month.

The stunning spiral staircases on each side of the five interconnected buildings are probably highlights of the building, and they are certainly very 'instagrammable!'


jeff koons ablloon monkey  jeff koons acrobat

jeff koons

jeff koons Jim Beam - J.B. Turner train  jeff koons 3 ball 50/50 tank

jeff koons Play-Doh

Jeff Koons: Now exhibition – Top left: Balloon Monkey; Top right: Acrobat; 4th left:  Jim Beam – J.B. Turner train; 4th right: Three ball 50/50 tank; Bottom row: Play-Doh


Architecture aside, what about the art? Well, I tried to keep an open mind before the visit, but I have to admit that Koons' work did nothing for me. His earlier Marcel Duchamp-inspired installations are shallow and banal, and his signature inflatable objects just look kitsch and rather outdated... a bit like Hirst's work. If the two artists were to launch their careers today, I doubt they would have had so much success. We are now living in a different era, and their shock tactics are unlikely to cause as much controversial as they did back in the 1980s/90s. The reason why I am not keen on contemporary art (especially from the 90s) is because I find most of the work cold, calculating, superficial and intentionally disturbing; and I fail to connect with the art work on an emotional level. This is also how I feel towards Koons and Hirst's work – emotionally detached.

However, despite my distaste for the art work, I would recommend a visit to this beautiful free art gallery especially if you are an architecture fan.


newport street gallery

brutalist building vauxhall

vauxhall pleasure garden  vauxhall  street art vauxhall


old paradise gardenold paradise garden

There are also some interesting gardens, buildings and street art in the surrounding area

This post was posted in London, Exhibitions, Architecture, Art, Contemporary, contemporary and was tagged with art and design exhibitions, contemporary art, contemporary architecture, Newport street gallery