A number of visitors have asked whether more examples of the Squire’s celebrated collection of modern art’s preoccupation with cricket can be shared with the wider audience who cannot visit the old Chelsea Cricket Club* pavilion where it is now magnificently housed.
Ever a campaigner for open access, Third Man is pleased to be able to indulge these requests with this work by the former stockbroker and skiddy seam bowler, Jeff Koons.
The Squire was much taken with the work of Koons in the 1980s when he, like the artist, was dwelling on the impact of consumerism which he believed threatened the old ways of village life and cricket in particular.
On one of Koon’s visits to the Great House for a cricketing weekend, the artist was seen to remove three cricket balls from a cabinet in the Gun Room and, with the help of the blacksmith and Third Man who had been using Equilibrium Tanks to soup up the Type III, he produced the maquette pictured above, rather unimaginatively called, ‘Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Duke Special County, Kookaburra Turf and Reader)’
In the Squire’s private notes on the work, he seeks to explain it thus: “Removed from any practical purpose, the three cricket balls become fetish objects to be gazed at and admired.”
Others have seen the work as part of Koon’s fixation with the themes of achievement, survival and death, and in this it provides an examination of the very stuff of cricket.
The Duke, the Kookaburra and the Reader are indeed the means of achieving fame and fortune for many a young man and woman in the UK, the West Indies, South Africa, Australasia and the Sub-Continent.
Yet they are also an instrument by which bowlers introduce batsmen, in a ritualised manner, to arbitrary dismissal and sudden extinction. In short, for the cricketer, they betoken death.
It hardly needs saying that, to Koons, playing cricket is the ultimate state of being.
‘Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Duke Special County, Kookaburra Turf and Reader)’ can be found on the right in Room X.
*This is the old Chelsea Cricket Club of the C18th and early C19th and most definitely not to be confused with the Chelsea Arts Cricket Club which is a far more recent troop as the ‘dot com’ status of its website discloses.