The Artist Behind Koons’s Ballerinas

When a 45-ft high inflatable sculpture by Jeff Koons first went on display at Rockefeller Center in New York on 12 May, the artist’s gallery, Gagosian, revealed only that the artist based Seated Ballerina (2017) “on a small porcelain figurine”. But the maker of the original ceramic piece was quickly revealed online: the Ukrainian artist Oksana Zhnikrup, who created dozens of statuettes for mass production in the Soviet Union. After widespread accusations of cultural appropriation and an enquiry by The Art Newspaper, Koons’s studio released a statement to us on 25 May acknowledging Oksana Zhnikrup and further revealing that Koons has a licence to use her work.

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