Thanks but no thanks: Jeff Koons 'remembrance' tulips booted from Paris museum

France 24 screen grab

After months of controversy, a Jeff Koons sculpture the American artist gave the city in remembrance of the 2015 Paris attacks victims will not find a home in front of the capital’s Museum of Modern Art and the Palais de Tokyo.


Officials from the ministry of culture and the city of Paris will meet with Koons representatives on Monday to determine a location for the sculpture, envisioned as a hand holding multi-coloured tulips. The final location will be somewhere "popular, visible and shared by everyone”, according to France’s minister of culture, Françoise Nyssen.

The tulips would be “an offering of remembrance to the victims of the terrible tragedies that have happened in France over the last two years”, Koons told FRANCE 24 in November 2016, adding that he wanted “to give hope to the surviving family members” and help the city overcome its tragedies.

>> Jeff Koons 'wants to give hope' to Paris attacks survivors

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo inititally said the sculpture – a 10-metre (34-foot) work of bronze, stainless steel and aluminium weighing 33 tons – would be installed in front of the Palais de Tokyo and the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris near Trocadéro.   

"The fact that this great artist has decided to offer to the city of Paris ... a monumental artwork is a symbol of generosity and sharing, and shows our capital's ties with the United States are unbreakable," Hidalgo said at the time.

But the decision triggered a very French controversy.

In a January opinion piece published in the daily Libération, 23 figures from France's art and culture world denounced the choice of a prime location – at the heart of the city's modern and contemporary art offerings – for such a massive structure and noted that the museums had no symbolic connection with the Paris attacks.

They also said that while Koons was a "brilliant and inventive" artist in the 1980s, he had since become a symbol of "industrial", assembly-line art.

Others had balked at the cost to taxpayers of installing the immense piece.

Culture Minister Nyssen said she had spoken to Koons several times and both shared a desire to move pass the controversy, which she has called "excessive and unpleasant”.

‘It’s an offering of remembrance’

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