The Record from Hackensack, New Jersey on January 14, 1961 · 31
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The Record from Hackensack, New Jersey · 31

Hackensack, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 14, 1961
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THE MAN IN the gray flannel suit and the figure in smock and beret are one and the same in Irv Koons He's an artist equally at home on Madison Avenue or. on the left bank of the Seine. The art world is Irv Koons's world and he lives in it every minute of the day in his office at Irv Koons Associates, industrial designers who run the gamut of design from packaging to furniture and in his Tenafly home with his painter wife Leah, a recognized artist in her own right, and his 6-year-old son Adam, already at ease among the plaster, oil. paints, and brushes of an artist's craft Koons was brought up in Reading, Pa., around the printing shop of his father, from whom he learned the basic elements of layout and design Early in life he knew that art would be his metier. Through the efforts of a foresight-ed high-school principal. Koons was able to spend his last year there accumulating a comprehensive foundation for his future profession. During this time, he set ud art projects for himself, read almost everything available on the history of art. and experimented (with the guidance of a fine teacher) in all forms of art, from sculpture to illustration. This fortuitous beginning was enriched by attendance at Pratt Institute: years of free-lance illustrating and designing: and an Army term in the China Burma-India Theater of Operations. Koons stayed on in India to become the art critic for the Statesman, the leading English language newspaper there During this same time, he helped organize in New Delhi the first International Art Exhibit in India, as well as working with a group that brought the first National Art Gallery to that country IRV KOONS is interested in expression through all forms of art, and his studio on the top floor of his remodeled turn-of t he-century house reflects this In one corner is a large plaster figure a model for a projected piece of sculpture On a side table are piled brightly colored packaging containers that he has designed for clients. Oil paintings (his and his wife's) are stacked against the walls or still in preparation on easels There are hundreds of sketches, books, and pamphlets wherever one looks some dramatic, some humorous, some boldly attractive. And near the stairs on a smll table is a form containing a design in stained glass, the current project of young Adam. ONE OF KOONS'S latest projects is the stained-glass window standing behind him and an Ooms, a craltsman in the field. He's An Artist In Any Outfit By Adele H. Stern motivated certainly by the most recently completed work of his father. This is a memorial wall, which Koons designed and executed for the Federation of Jewish Charities Build- ARTIST IRV KOON watch. WEEK-END MAGAZINE fetches at home. Son Adam and wife Leah ing in New York City The wall contains seven stained-glass windows, 9 feet high, backlighted for day and night visibility. The brilliantly jewellike, stained-glass panels are interspersed with panels of various woods, and the combination of vibrant color, dramatic design, and rich woods is breathtaking At the dedication of the wall, critics predicted that this work in stained glass would be certain to take its place in history with those of the great cathedrals in Europe. The combination of the age-old craft with contemporary design is unique in this country. At the Lamb Studios in Tenafly. where the window was built, Jan Ooms, the craftsman who worked with Koons. mentioned that it was amazing how much understanding this artist had of a medium in which he had never worked before But actually there ts an explanation. One year while he was a student at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Fon-tainebleau. France, he and a friend toured Europe studying the art of the great cathedrals. HIS EVOLUTION from painter to designer came about through his versatility and from the desire to communicate diversely and widely. He says that as a painter he might have been able to reach the limited number of people who came to a mureum, but as a designer, he can help elevate the taste and appreciation of many, many more. For a while, he turned to illustration, doing among other things the illustrations for a series of humorous travel books ("The Poor Man's Guide to Europe", " How Green Was My Father") for Simon and Schuster and Random House, but he found more and more that the meaningful quality of the illustration became evident only in the context of the complete design So he broadened his field. He approaches each project as a scholar investigating the subject thoroughly and making sketches and plans until the abstract conception finally takes visible form under his fingers. Frequently, he will say it is his wife with her inherent good taste and wealth of experience as an art director who gives him the guiding concept for a design. "Graphis, the International Journal of Graphic and Applied Art", says of Koons in a recent issue: "He is essentially an 'idea' designer. His designs must grow from the basis of an intellectual idea rather than from an abstract pattern. He believes that the simplest form of communication of the idea is the best design solution; excitement and interest are a necessary part of the design, but only in so far as they do not interfere with the simplest expression of an idea." At 38, at the top of his profession, with awards from the Art Directors Club, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and Society of Illustrators to his credit, Irv Koons still finds the art world challenging His enthusiasm for each new creative project has not been dulled with success. The dedicated bov who came to New York with $100 in his pocket and washed dishes arid taught at settlement houses in order to get through Pratt, who once used a basement bathroom for a studio because there was no place else to paint, who walked into his wife's office 6 months after their marriage and put two tickets to Europe on her desk, has set down roots in Tenafly. And as he regards the peaceful wooded landscape surrounding his beautiful home, which he and his wife decorated, his vigorous curiosity toward the next creative project pulls him into the future ... a sculptured giant ... a stained-glass window . . . an advertising campaign a peaceful chapel ... an elegant volume. NOT THE LEAST among Koons's talents is sculpturing. January 14, 1961 3

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