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Art Inflation
A supersized Koons sculpture adds an arty touch to the Macy's Thanksgiving parade

The giant helium-filled character balloons have long been a favored attraction in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. And the 81st parade will be no different with this year’s line-up featuring not only such kiddie faves such as Dora the Explorer, Scooby-Doo, Shrek, and Mr. Potato Head, but also Jeff Koons’ Rabbit. The 53-foot tall balloon was designed by the famed painter and sculptor as part of Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery design series, which launched in 2005 with Tom Otterness’ Humpty Dumpty balloon. Koons’ creation is a replica of his 1986 stainless steel Rabbit statue, which itself was modeled off a child’s inflatable toy.

The artist was involved in every aspect of the balloon’s production, said Lauran Rothstein, Koons’ press representative. He worked closely with Macy’s to determine the exact size and shape restrictions of the balloon before embarking on the design for what is his largest inflatable sculpture yet. Constructed of two different materials, the Rabbit balloon weighs in at 176 pounds and requires four assistants to handle it in the parade. The inner balloon was fashioned into a rabbit shape by creating air chambers out of heat-sealed, 3-ounce urethane-coated nylon fabric. Over this, a silver metallic-coated nylon fabric was sewn, replicating the statue’s metallic gleam.

“I think one of the reasons why Rabbit is an iconic work, a popular piece, is because it’s so reflective,” Koons said in a statement.”It reflects the needs of culture and society and can represent so many different things to the viewer.”

Rodney DeaVault