Koons’s Rabbit began as an inflatable, store-bought, plastic toy. Its transformation started when Koons bought it, blew it up, and had it cast in highly polished stainless steel. It has crinkled ears like an inflatable toy, a spherical head, and bulbous appendages, yet its face is blank. Employing a cliché, Koons has depicted a rabbit eating a carrot. While it appears to be a whimsical work of art, it also raises serious questions about what constitutes art. In its finished state it visually challenges the viewer on several levels. While it appears to be a shiny, lightweight, Mylar balloon, it is actually quite heavy and hard. Its mirrorlike surface also seduces the viewer, much as shiny silver in a jewelry store window would. As such, Rabbit addresses the heyday of luxury and consumerism in the 1980s. Rabbit’s surface also calls to mind the use of shiny metals in both historical and social contexts. According to Koons, “Polished objects have often been displayed by the church and by wealthy people to set a stage of both material security and enlightenment of spiritual nature; the stainless steel is a fake reflection of that stage.”
The sculpture’s stainless steel surface functions as a mirror and reflects everything that is exhibited around it and everyone who looks at it. It is a work of art with chameleon-like qualities—changing as its surroundings change.