Darell John Koons (December 18, 1924 – June 28, 2016) was an American painter. He was a member of the art faculty at Bob Jones University for forty years.
Koons had more than 45 one-man exhibitions, including exhibitions at University of South Carolina, Wake Forest University, the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA, and the Washington County Museum of Art, Hagerstown, MD; and he has participated in at least that many group exhibitions throughout the United States. Koons’ paintings are in hundreds of public and private collections including the Gibbes Gallery, Charleston, SC; the Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC; the South Carolina State Art Collection; the Governor’s Mansion, Columbia, SC; The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; Eastern Michigan University; Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC; Central Wesleyan College, Central, SC; the W. Clement Stone Collection, Chicago; and the Indonesian Embassy. Koons’ paintings have been published in Contemporary Artists of South Carolina, Artist/U.S.A., and three editions of Prizewinning Art.
Art critics have called his distinctive style “magic realistic,” because the viewer tends to read into the picture more than actually appears. Koons’ deceptively simple paintings, mostly in watercolor or polymer, give the viewer an impression of extreme detail in old buildings such as barns, cotton gins, and mills. In a 2010 interview, Koons told a reporter, "Bob Jones, Sr. once said you can't get the sand out the country boy's ears. That's true with me. An artist must know something about his subject or he will surely have difficulty painting it. My experience as a child and youth in rural Michigan has given me knowledge of my subjects, thus the opportunity to record this passing history of Americana."
In a 1972 interview, Koons noted that he enjoyed playing with space, especially in a building opening. He virtually never included figures in his paintings but he often teased the viewer with open doors that "give the impression of recent activity." Koons’ work has been compared to that of Andrew Wyeth, although Koons himself believed the greatest influences on his art were the shadows and simplicity of Edward Hopper and the straight lines of Mondrian.
Koons made a hobby of giving religious “chalk talks” to church groups especially during the Christmas and Easter seasons. In 1970, Koons joined two other BJU faculty members, Emery Bopp and Carl Blair, to found Hampton III Gallery, one of the first commercial galleries in Upstate South Carolina.
Notes and references
- Darell Koons obituary, Greenville News, June 29, 2016, 10A. Koons was married to Joyce Sherwood Koons; they had five children. Memorial website.
- Cindy Landrum, "His Life in Arts: Koons exhibit features artist's early take on familiar subjects," Greenville Journal, August 27, 2010, 48.
- Biographical information from Hampton III Gallery.
- Greenville Piedmont, December 4, 1973, 17.
- Landrum, 47. Usually Koons removed signs of modernity such as telephone poles and electric wires.
- Landrum, 48.
- Greenville News, November 19, 1972, 2B.
- Hampton III Gallery home page. Archived 2007-04-14 at the Wayback Machine.