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iGoogle: O Pop, Where Art Thou? Jeff Koons, Wiggles, La Cicciolina

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Google commissioned Jeff Koons, the controversial modern artist, to create graphic images for iGoogle backgrounds. Koons' Google Doodle today features his interpretation of (chrome) tulips. "Where art thou?" asks Marissa Mayer, VP of search products & user experience, in her official blog post this morning:

"Did you notice the chrome tulips on Google's homepage today? They are part of a special Google doodle done by renowned artist Jeff Koons. And that isn't the only art appearing anew on Google today. As part of our iGoogle Artists project, we have collaborated with almost 70 artists in 17 countries on 6 continents to create special iGoogle themes -- works of art that appeal to all ages and interests."

Our response: "O Brother, Google, where art thousands of dollars going?"
Or perhaps, "O Pop, Where Art Thou?"

Most of the time, the controversy about Koons -- at 53-years old modern art's aging bad boy -- centers on whether he's a brilliant artist or the emperor's new clothes.

Jeff Koons isn't the only Google artist designing for iGoogle: non-artist artists like UK rockers Coldplay and U.S. kiddieboppers The Wiggles (shown below); fashion designers Mark Ecko (rhino logo) and Diane von Furstenburg (wife of Ask.com owner Barry Diller of IAC); architects Phillipe Starck (W Hotels) and Michael Graves; and New Yorker cartoonist Robert Mankoff.

Why in the world would a world-famous artist like Jeff Koons hire himself out for graphic design work?

It seems the multimillionaire artist and ex-husband of an ex-porn star may need the moolah.

Jeff Koons famously married a European porn star, La Cicciolina ("fleshy one"), after hiring her as his muse for photos, paintings and sculptures.

The artwork Koons spawned from their union was graphic but not graphic in a Googley design way. Think NSFW: sexually explicit in a flashy, fleshy Paris Hilton - Britney Spears - Lindsay Lohan kind of way. The only difference? Koons' sculptures starred Jeff and (as Brit wits might say) his naughty bits.

A few weeks ago, La Cicciolina, AKA Ilona Staller, sued her ex-husband, Jeffrey Koons, for $2.4 million dollars (1.5 million euros) in child support for their 15-year old son, Ludwig Maximilian Koons, according to papers filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court.

iGoogle Art - The Wiggles

Child support payments of 15,000 euros a month were ordered by an Italian court in June 2007. Koons has only paid 191,426 euros for child support during the roughly nine year period (Oct 1998 - Dec 2007), leaving a balance owed of about 1.5 million euros.

Staller starred in X-rated films in Italy as La Cicciolina before she was elected to serve as a member of Italy's parliament for five years.

After the jump we have a two-minute clip from the Sundance Channel: fashion designer "Tom Ford on Jeff Koons" from the Iconoclast series. You can see what Jeff Koons Safe-For-Work art is all about in a SFW video.

AP reported that after their divorce in New York in 1994, Koons was given custody of their infant son. A judge ordered that the child remain in New York. In June of 1994, Staller slipped away from Koons' security guards and escaped to Italy with the boy.

When the divorce and custody issues were litigated again in Italy, Staller, an Italian citizen, was granted a divorce. After appealing, she received custody of the boy.

Koons piled up legal bills of almost $4 million trying to bring his son back from Italy. So maybe we can call this Google's "No Child Left Behind" Pop Art campaign.

Here's Tom Ford explaining the art of Jeff Koons, whose work has been displayed at London's Royal Academy, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain:


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