US pop artist Jeff Koons has unveiled his long-awaited giant sculpture titled Bouquet of Tulips in Paris, commemorating the victims of terror attacks that rocked France in 2015 and 2016.
The 41ft sculpture was fashioned from polychromed bronze, stainless steel and aluminium, and portrays a hand clasping a bouquet of balloon-like tulips.
At an inauguration ceremony attended by some families of the November 2015 Paris terror attacks, Koons called the flowers “a symbol that life moves forward”.Jeff Koons delivers a speech before the unveiling (Francois Mori/AP)
The New York-based artist said the “inflatable flowers represent loss, rebirth and the vitality of the human spirit”.
“I did, as a citizen in New York, experience 9/11 and the depression that hung over the city, and it really took years for the city to be able to come to life again,” Koons said.
Patricia Correia, whose daughter was killed in the Bataclan concert hall attack, thanked Koons for his tribute.
She said: “It’s a very strong testament between the two countries and for me it represents the colours of life, the roots which are here and continue growing despite all the tragic events we went through.”Jeff Koons poses with the sculpture (Francois Mori/AP)
Controversy over the placement of the sculpture held up its installation for years after Koons announced the gift in November 2016.
It was finally placed in the gardens of the Champs-Elysees, between the Petit Palais and the Concorde plaza.
Calling the work “a gift from the heart”, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo described vibrant debate, particularly over art, as a hallmark of Parisian identity.
“Nothing can be small in Paris,” she said. “Everything is big in Paris — emotions, controversies and the traces that art leaves in our lives.”
Private French and American donors covered the costs of constructing and installing the sculpture.