Jeff Koons' tulips honouring Paris attacks victims inaugurated at Petit Palais

France 24 screen grab

Paris on Friday inaugurated a Jeff Koons sculpture of tulips given to France by the artist to honour the victims of the 2015 attacks. "Tulips bouquet" was installed near the Petit Palais museum after a controversy over its location.


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 a November 2016 interview, adding that he wanted “to give hope to the surviving family members” and help the city overcome the tragedy.

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.

But the decision sparked controversy.

In an open letter published in the daily Libération last year, 23 figures from France's art and culture world denounced the choice of a prime location 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 balked at the cost to taxpayers of installing the immense piece.

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

Koons said Tuesday he was "saddened" by the negative reaction. He told Le Figaro that the row was triggered by "a lot of misunderstandings and misinformation".

Koons' scupture has now found a home near the Petit Palais museum that is partly obscured from view by trees, ending the four-year row over its location.

It features a hand holding a huge bunch of multicoloured tulips, intended to mimic how the figure in the Statue of Liberty grasps her torch.

Koons created the monumental bouquet after being asked to come up with a work symbolising America's solidarity with France in the wake of the Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.

In October, the city of Paris announced it had finally found a new location for the orphaned flowers in a garden behind the Petit Palais.

Koons said the controversy had been "painful" but that the sculpture had given him a "magnificent opportunity to show my respect and love for France and the French".

Private donors financed the work's estimated €3.5 million ($3.8 million) price tag.

Koons said the proceeds of the sculpture's copyright would be shared between associations representing terror victims and the city of Paris.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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