What happens when your aesthetic of joy is another’s eyesore?

moran8-15-2The headlines have been comical. “Richard Perry in the Sky With Diamonds,” reads one. “Jeff Koons’s Blinding Bling,” blares another, calling out the controversy over hedge fund founder Richard Perry’s installation of a giant green diamond-shaped sculpture by Koons on the terrace of his penthouse apartment.

Art is a terribly subjective thing, which is how you get debates such as this one, which has led to myriad complaints and has even forced Perry to shift the direction of the sculpture to prevent light reflections from its mirror-polished surface from “burning like lasers” in a neighboring penthouse. (Ah, the problems of the very rich!)

You could argue an aesthetic of joy here — the oversized scale, the delicious shininess — though perhaps it’s not so layered as joy and may be more novelty than joy. My friend Deirdre says it makes her happy, though she can see how the neighbors might not be so thrilled. When private taste impinges on public eyeballs, the line between joyful and hideous can get awfully blurry. Is a work of art or a piece of decor still joyful if it bothers some to the point of agitation?


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