Long before its installation in Paris was even slated to begin, Jeff Koons’s monumental public sculpture Bouquet of Tulips began causing controversy in the French art world, with various artists and curators speaking out against the work. Whether the work would ever been installed seemed to be in jeopardy, but today, Paris’s deputy mayor, Chirstophe Girard, said that Koons’s piece, a gift from the artist intended to honor of the victims of the 2015 terrorist attacks in the city, will officially be installed in the gardens of the Petit Palais, and not between the city’s Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville and the Palais de Tokyo, as was originally intended.
On the radio station France Inter, Girard explained that the sculpture’s installation will be financed by private funds, though “public money will be used for the maintenance of the work,” and state officials will oversee the protection of the sculpture once it’s finished. Dates for the installation of the piece have not been confirmed.
Bouquet of Tulips will stand at 10 meters high and weigh 27 tons, and is being accepted as a gift from the American embassy by Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo. The sculpture’s size, as well as costs related to its fabrication and installation, left many in Paris worried. (Early estimates indicated that €3.5 million, or about $4.04 million, would need to be allocated for the sculpture’s fabrication and installation.)
In an open letter published by the newspaper Libération, a group of arts professionals—among them the artists Christian Boltanski and Jean-Luc Moulène and Montpellier Contemporain director Nicolas Bourriaud—called on the city to abandon Bouquet of Tulips entirely. A second open letter, published by Le Monde and signed by various other arts professionals, including Palais de Tokyo cofounder Jérome Sâns, followed and was intended as a defense of Koons’s sculpture.