Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 12:27 UK

Koons's Popeye work goes on show

Moustache, 2003.  2009 Jeff Koons
Koons's work explores ideas of consumerism, taste, childhood and sexuality

A major solo show by artist Jeff Koons, which features work from his Popeye series, has been unveiled in London.

Work by the popular US artist will go on public display at the Serpentine Gallery from Thursday.

The focus will be on his paintings of cartoon character Popeye, as well as inflatable beach and bath toys, including a giant lobster.

Koons said he wanted visitors to engage with the works and feel that "their history, their culture is perfect".

The Serpentine Gallery said it was the first major exhibition of the artist's work in a public gallery in England.

Popeye 2003.  2008 Jeff Koons
Koons started work on his Popeye series in 2002

Popeye and Olive Oyl are central to the series, with many of the pieces on loan from both public and private collections.

The exhibition also includes dolphins, a paddling pool, monkeys and lobsters which, at first glance, look like inflatable toys.

But the objects are cast in aluminium and their surfaces are painted.

Koons said: "Working with everyday objects, it's about people and the acceptance of others.

"I watched Popeye when I was younger... I always see a little bit of my father in Popeye."

Koons began his Popeye series in 2002.

Speaking about the "inflatables", he said: "In our own life we're inflatable. We exhale and it's a symbol of death.

"They're [the artworks] in a state of being optimistic."

He added: "Maybe art is the spinach."

Koons's work has been widely exhibited internationally. His most recent solo exhibitions include presentations at the Chateau de Versailles, France; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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