Jeff Koons unveils sculpture for Paris attacks victims

World

New York-based artist Jeff Koons poses with his wife Justine Wheeler as he unveiled his much-awaited and controversial sculpture “Bouquet of Tulips” dedicated to the victims of the terrorists attacks, in a garden next to the Champs Elysee near the Petit Palais museum in Paris, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS (AP) — New York-based pop artist Jeff Koons unveiled his long-awaited, giant sculpture titled “Bouquet of Tulips” in Paris on Friday, commemorating the victims of terror attacks that rocked France in 2015 and 2016.

The 12.6-meter (41-foot) sculpture, fashioned from polychromed bronze, stainless steel, and aluminum, 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.”

He 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.

“It’s a very strong testament between the two countries and for me it represents the colors of life, the roots which are here and continue growing despite all the tragic events we went through,” she told the AP.

Controversy over the placement of the sculpture stalled 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.

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Catherine Gaschka and Oleg Cetinic contributed reporting.

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