Supporters defend Jeff Koons’s generosity

Jeff Koons, Bouquet of Tulips, 2016, rendering. Courtesy the artist, via Noirmont Art Production

The production company behind a proposed monumental public sculpture donated by Jeff Koons to the city of Paris has defended the work and the artist's intentions behind the gift. Bouquet of Tulips, a 8.5m sculpture of a hand holding a bunch of balloonlike flowers, is intended as a memorial to the victims of the city's 2016 terrorist attacks.

Last week, a group of 24 established artists, curators and other members of the French artworld penned an open letter in Libération claiming the gesture was more about self-promotion than memorial. The sculpture is to be installed outside the Palais de Tokyo. The signatories to the letter also raised concerns about the cost of the work. Koons's gift was of the concept and copyright only. Production costs are to be fundraised separately. There is currently at €3.5 million shortfall.

Noirmont Art Production have issued a statement, reasserting Koons’s position. They say Koons was originally invited to undertake the project by the former US ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, and visited various sites across Paris before deciding on the Palais de Tokyo, a place ‘emblematic of culture for the youth’. As per the cost of the work, the company points out that the project was funded entirely by gifts from French-American donors (via a fundraising campaign) and that all copyright proceeds from are to be redistributed to the families of the victims of the attacks. 'Conceived as a gesture of friendship and union, the Bouquet of Tulips of Jeff Koons cannot become a symbol of discord!' the statement concludes.

30 January 2018