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Jeff Koons Sculpture in Honor of Paris Terror Victims Draws Outrage

Jeff Koons Sculpture in Honor of Paris Terror Victims Draws Outrage


The piece, which is almost 12 meters high and 8 wide (40 by 26 feet), is one of Mr. Koons’s largest. It is intended to evoke the hand of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the people of the United States. Mr. Koons’s sculpture, made of polychrome bronze, stainless steel and aluminum, depicts a hand holding a bunch of multicolor flowers.

In the letter to Libération, the signatories objected to the fact that Mr. Koons’s donation extended only to the “idea” of the work, not to its production and installation, which required donations, some of which qualified for tax deductions.

The letter also called the chosen location for the sculpture, in the 16th Arrondissement, “surprising, if not opportunistic, even cynical.” It is an area popular with tourists, across the river from the Eiffel Tower, and nowhere near where the terrorist attacks of 2015 it is supposed to commemorate took place.

The letter further noted that, while Mr. Koons had come to “symbolize a type of industrial, spectacular and speculative art,” providing “such strong visibility and recognition would amount to advertising or product placement.”

“We appreciate gifts,” the signatories said in closing their letter, but ones that are “free, unconditional and without ulterior motives.”

Authorization to install the sculpture has not yet been granted by city officials.

In November 2016, when the work was first announced, Mr. Koons told The New York Times, “I hope that the ‘Bouquet of Tulips’ can communicate a sense of future, of optimism, the joy of offering, to find something greater outside the self.”

“Bouquet of Tulips” is the first commemorative work by Mr. Koons, who is best known for his metallic sculptures of balloon animals. He is a polarizing figure in the art world, whose previous works in France have also proved divisive. A 2008 exhibition at the Château de Versailles, the first retrospective of the artist in the country, was described by one critic as a “sullying of the most sacred aspects of our heritage and identity” and “an outrage to Marie Antoinette.”



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