Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
96.2 × 60.5 × 37.8 cm (37 7/8 × 23 13/16 in.)
This stainless steel sculpture is the result of a sophisticated engineering process with translucent colours and a perfect finisha mirror polish. It thus creates the illusion that it was made simply by inflating with helium a child's balloon of this late twentieth century icon of American pop culture. Although it required hours of painstaking work, all traces of the effort and the specifics of the manufacturing process have disappeared, leaving no traces of the production, only the perfect embodiment of this artifice. In the exhibition catalogue for In Praise of Doubt at the Punta della Dogana in 2011, Koons writes, "Polishing metal makes it a desirable surface. It also affirms the presence of the viewer".
Titi first appeared in Koons's work in the Popeye series, and inflatable objects have been a major presence in his work since the late 1970s. The artist plays on the perception of the materiality of the work, on the confusion caused by transposing the most ephemeral balloon into the most durable metal, on the proportions and the hyperbolic, ostentatious character of the colour and mirror effect, conferring on the work a character of playful perfection, full of life.
The reference to the famous cartoon evokes childish joy, the place of the object in a consumer society, and the proliferation of images through objects. The sculpture does not represent Titi, but rather a balloon bearing the effigy of the popular hero. The shiny, full-figured toy contrasts with the stiffness and schematization of its transposition, the verticality of its posture, the weight of its materiality, erected like a kouros a deity or a dignitary of ancient statuary. Bringing together several themes from his work, Titi is one of the artist's most iconic sculptures.
This work is presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection in the exhibition "Jeff Koons Mucem" in 2021.