Jeff Koons: One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank

In Jeff Koons’s One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985), a Spalding basketball floats in the centre of a glass tank that rests on a simple black metal stand. The work presents what Koons called ‘the penultimate state of being’ — neither death nor life, but a suspended state of rest. It has been called one of the defining works of the 1980s, but was also described as ‘an endgame’, ‘misleading’ and part of a ‘repulsive’ practice.

In this book, Michael Archer argues that such an image of stillness captured the spirit of its day. He discusses One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank and Koons’s work from the time in the wider context of the 1980s art world — a world in which a renewed attention to painting met the legacy of Pop and appropriation art. He also relates One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank to popular culture, sport and science, examining the significance of the work’s temporary but endlessly renewable state of suspension.