Jeff Koons’ Controversial ‘Tulips’ Tribute To Paris Attack Victims Gets Unveiled
By Mikelle Leow, 07 Oct 2019
Image via Naeblys / Shutterstock.com
After years of pushback with Parisians, Jeff Koons’ controversial Bouquet of Tulips (2019) was finally unveiled on Friday.
Unlike the artist’s metallic Tulips, this 41-foot variation features a hand gripping a bouquet of rubber-like “balloons.”
The massive installation is a gift from Koons to Paris in the wake of the 2015 terror attacks that killed 130 people. The incorporation of the hand is a nod at the Statue of Liberty, and the sculpture in overall pays tribute to America’s solidarity with France.
Locals and art enthusiasts alike have been heavily critical about the artwork, partly because it was planned for display outside the Palais de Tokyo, which would hinder views of the Eiffel Tower.
While Koons did not have a say in location choices, he was lambasted for creating “product placement” and an “opportunistic” piece, which people also deemed as inappropriate considering the tragedy that inspired it.
The monument’s creation was delayed on several occasions, as while it was funded by private donors at €3.5 million (US$3.8 million), Koons only agreed to presenting the project’s “idea” rather than its materials.
In hopes that controversy doesn’t continue following the sculpture, it has instead found a home in a less noticeable site at the gardens of Champs-Elysées, between the Petit Palais museum and Place de la Concorde.
The city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo, who helmed the unveiling of the 67-ton sculpture, described the piece as a “magnificent symbol of freedom and friendship” on Friday.
The Bouquet of Tulips’ setup eventually surpassed its budget, so Koons donated an additional US$1 million. 80-percent of royalties from related commercial products are expected to be forwarded to families affected by the 2015 attacks, and the other 20 percent will help fund the sculpture’s maintenance.
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[via Dazed Digital, images via various sources]
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