Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jeff Koons: Heart felt

Some symbols are just so powerful you can’t get past them. Take the auction at Sotheby’s last month of Jeff Koons’s gigantic stainless steel sculpture 'Hanging Heart', from his Celebration series. The price? $23.6 million. That makes Koons the most expensive living artist in the world, and I guess, 'Hanging Heart', at 9 feet tall and more than 3,500 pounds, the most expensive heart.

I have just bought three much smaller heart sculptures by Mackenzie Thorpe, an artist who works in the UK. They are sculptures of small people and tell the stories of their lives, their joy, despair, love and sorrow. Then in Miami a couple of weeks ago, I saw that the Miami artist Britto was having an exhibition. The main piece on show? A 6 foot heart in his trademark brilliant South Beach reds and yellows. As if that wasn’t enough, in Orlando the other day I look up and there is a skywriter, his cloudy script forming the word LOVE. As the songs says, “love is all around”.

Back in the early days of Lovemarks, I asked people to go easy on the heart symbol. I didn’t want Lovemarks to be overwhelmed by the flowering of a thousand hearts. What was I thinking? Trying to control the break-out of hearts is like trying to lay down strict guidelines for what you’re allowed to feel. Even with all the excesses of Valentine’s Day, the heart is still capable of some heavy emotional lifting. The hearts in your life might not be in the $23.6 million stratosphere, but then again, I can guarantee that their power lies in the connections they make for you, not their price. A heart cut from paper and placed with love on your pillow costs nothing and yet its emotional pull is irresistible. No wonder hearts have won a place at the center of Lovemarks.