After two years of controversy, Paris has ended up finding a place to Bouquet of Tulips, the sculpture given by the artist Jeff Koons in tribute to the 130 victims of the attacks of November 2015. The work, a hand holding a bouquet of colorful balloons in the shape of a tulip, about 11 meters high, will be installed in the gardens surrounding the Petit Palais de la French capital, confirmed on Friday the Councilor for Culture of the City of Paris, Christophe Girard.
Koons traveled to Paris on Thursday to unblock the situation and choose a place to place his work, among three options proposed by the City Council of the capital. He ended up choosing the surroundings of the Petit Palais, a mansion built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and attached to the Champs Elysees and the US Embassy, which currently houses a municipally owned art museum. He preferred it to the other two sites. One of them was in the northwest of the capital -according to Le Monde, it would be the United States Square, too peripheral for the artist – and another in the 11th district of the French capital, perhaps next to the Bataclan room, one of the points affected by the 2015 attacks.
The date of installation is not closed, but the agreement between Koons and the French authorities. The work takes months in the German warehouse where it was manufactured, waiting for a decision on its location. The artist gave the sculpture, but on condition of choosing its location. From the outset, he chose an exceptional place: the open courtyard located between the Museum of Modern Art and the Palais de Tokyo, specializing in contemporary art, two steps from the Seine and with spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower. But both the City Council of Paris and the French Ministry of Culture put up a blow, alluding to "technical risks" and "patrimonial". A report commissioned by the Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen, had pointed out the fragility of the foundations of the site, which could not sustain the work, which weighs 33 tons.
This uncomfortable gift also had the rejection of much of the world of culture in France, which does not convince either its aesthetics or its intentions. A petition signed by personalities such as the filmmaker Olivier Assayas, the artist Christian Boltanski, the theorist Nicolas Bourriaud and the architect Dominique Perrault demanded last winter that the sculpture should not be installed. "We like the gifts when they are free and without conditions", said his grandstand, considering that Bouquet of Tulips it was "an emblem of an industrial art, spectacular and speculative". In addition, a survey conducted by the specialized publication Le Quotidien de l'Art among more than 600 French professionals of culture had a categorical result: 98% rejected the work. Among other reasons, because the artist gave the work, but not its production and installation, estimated at 3.5 million euros. An amount paid by the private initiative, although the patronage activities are largely tax-deductible, so part of the costs will fall on the taxpayer.
According to the Parisian gallery owner of Koons, Emmanuelle de Noirmont, Koons left Paris on Friday "with a big smile on his lips". "He had been very affected by all the controversies, which gave a false idea about his intentions, which I would say were pure, generous and in support of the French people and France, because Jeff has been in love with France for a long time," he said. From Noirmont to the Artnet website.