Jeff Koons Brings Fine art to the Masses with $4K Handbags

Thanks to Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton, deep-pocketed fashion fans are about to become walking, clacking galleries.

The French brand just announced “Masters LV x Koons,” a collaboration with the “Balloon Dog” artist that transforms handbags into canvasses for high art. Launching April 28, the 51-piece collection is inspired by Koons’ 2015 “Gazing Ball” series, which replicated famous works of art, such as Monet’s “Water Lilies” and da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.”

This dream come true for well-heeled art lovers includes handbags, backpacks, scarves and bag charms. Each piece features a printed image of a work by one of five master artists: da Vinci, Fragonard, Rubens, Titian or Van Gogh.

On the bags, finishing touches include the artist’s name, rendered in can’t-miss-it shiny lettering, plus a small description of the artist on the interior lining.

At a time when museum attendance lags and interest in the arts seems to be generally declining, Koons says he wants to democratize high art.

The artist told the New York Times, “I hope people understand my ideas [and] embrace them as a continuation of my effort to erase the hierarchy attached to fine art and old masters.”

However, using luxury fashion to deliver high art to the masses seems counterintuitive, given the snobbish stereotype often assigned to fashion folk.

As for erasing fine art’s hierarchy, it’s worth nothing that all of the items in this collection cost far more than a ticket to the Louvre — and in many cases, a round-trip flight to Paris. Prices range from $585 for a key chain to $4,000 for a leather “Keepall” travel bag.

Still, as Koons points out in a video that Louis Vuitton released, the French house is one of today’s “major sponsors of the arts,” and has a long history of working with artists to bring their craft to a more public-facing platform.

During his tenure as creative director for the fashion house, Marc Jacobs worked with Yayoi Kusama, Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Stephen Sprouse on bag collaborations — and all were giant hits.

Pieces from those earlier collections can still be found on eBay for prices north of $1,500.

Perhaps this will be another sellout collection.

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