Jeff Koons’s controversial “Bouquet of Tulips” begins installation in Paris.

Wallace Ludel
Aug 26, 2019 4:23PM, via The Art Newspaper

Jeff Koons with a rendering of Bouquet of Tulips. Photo by Stephane Cardinale-Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images.

After three years of quarrelling over its location, the Jeff Koons’s Bouquet of Tulips installation has finally begun in Paris. The project started when Jane Hartley, the former U.S. ambassador to France, suggested that Koons make a sculpture for Paris in the wake of the city’s 2015 terrorist attack that killed 130 people. The nearly 40-foot tall sculpture will depict a hand holding eleven of Koons’s signature balloon tulips—it is one shy of a dozen as the missing twelfth represents the victims of the attacks.

Bouquet of Tulips is being installed in the municipal gardens behind the Petit Palais, a location that took three years to agree upon. The sculpture was originally to be installed between the Palais de Tokyo and the Musée d’Art Moderne, but after the French daily paper Libération published an op-ed signed by 23 French cultural figures denouncing the proposed location, noting that it had no symbolic connection with the Paris attacks, that it would “upset the present harmony” between the two museums, and that it would obstruct the view of the Eiffel Tower. A three-year back and forth ensued between former French culture minister Françoise Nyssen, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, and the fabrication company Noirmontartproduction, who spoke on Koons’s behalf.

According to The New York Times, while Koons is donating the sculpture’s concept, the roughly $3.5 million in installation costs were paid for by a private foundation with funds from American and French donors.

The tulips are being installed with an 80-ton crane, and photography of the process is prohibited, according to The Art Newspaper. The installation is expected to be completed by Nuit Blanche, an annual evening art event in Paris that will take place on October 5th.

Wallace Ludel