Jeff Koons unveils controversial sculpture to honour Paris attack victims

Awful“, “grotesque” and “pornographic” are the reactions of locals after seeing the installation of a controversial sculpture in Paris on Monday.

The Bouquet of Tulips’ is a gift from US artist Jeff Koons to the victims of the 2015 attacks in Paris. Organised mass shootings and a bomb attack in the city killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

Despite criticism, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was delighted to unveil the 12 metre tall work near the Champs-Elysées, hailing it a “magnificent symbol of freedom and friendship” and a “beautiful gift.”

Formed from polychromed bronze, stainless steel and aluminium, the sculpture shows a giant hand rising from the ground clutching a bunch of balloon-shaped tulips. Although typical of Koons’ kitsch style, critics have slammed the multicoloured ‘tulips’ for looking more like marshmallows or even human derrieres.

Columnist Eric Naulleau attacked Koons for “imposing his poor bouquet of tulips” on Paris, stating that the artwork was “dreadful” after seeing it in person.

Eye-candy for philistines” is how one Twitter user, Gilles Brandet, described the donated sculpture, adding: “I find Jeff Koons’ ‘kitsch neo-pop’ totally devoid of interest.”

Whilst some visitors simply don’t like Koons’ unique style, others are more sceptical about the sculptor’s motivations behind the piece.

When the project was first announced in 2016, artists published an open letter that criticised the artwork for being “opportunistic, even cynical.” Le Quotidien de l’Art also ran a survey of their readers, which found that 98% disapproved of the project.

Nothing can be small in Paris,” explained the city’s Mayor. “Everything is big in Paris – emotions, controversies, and the traces that art leaves in our lives.”

Defying the criticism, Koons said he intended to show his support and US solidarity with the French people through ‘The Bouquet of Tulips.’ “I did, as a citizen in New York, experience 9/11 and the depression that hung over the city,” revealed Koons.

The artist also explained how 80% of the money raised following the sale of the artwork’s copyright would be given to the victims’ families.

A mother whose daughter was killed in the Bataclan concert hall attack, Patricia Correia, believed the sculpture was “a very strong testament” to France’s international relationships and that “for me it represents the colours of life.”

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