Moments in history thought of as the darkest of times can alter the history of a nation or even the whole world forever, making them both incredibly important and memorable.
Sometimes, nations who recognize the hardships that a fellow nation is going through after a tragic event will show acts of compassion, showing that they’re not alone.
One act is the memorial gift, some of which are made by a victim of the country itself, but many of which are made by allied countries.
Dark moments in recent history have included the various terrorist attacks in France. In the 2015 Paris Attacks, according to an article by the BBC, 130 people were killed and hundreds more injured from coordinated gun and bomb attacks.
While these defining moments brought anguish and heartbreak to many, they have shaped France as it continues to recover from these events as well as its relationship with alliances. One such long alliance is the relationship between France and America.
Jeff Koons, an American contemporary artist, is showing his support to France through a memorial gift: his piece entitled “Bouquet of Tulips.”
Koons is famous for his series of enlarged, metallic balloon animals, one of which broke the record for most expensive auctioned item sold by a living artist with a final bid of $58.4 million.
His statue, planned to be placed in front of the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art and the Palais de Tokyo, shows a hand holding a bouquet of multicolored balloons shaped like tulips. According to Sarah Cascone from Artnet News, the statue is supposed to be reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty, one of the most famous gifts from France commemorating the United States’ independence. At 40 feet tall and 26 feet wide, it took 4.3 million dollars to fund his piece which has been under construction in Germany for over a year.
Many Parisians, from both the general public and higher cultural positions, are calling for the plans of installing the piece to be trashed. In truth, many Parisians feel that his piece is void of any genuine sentiment and is entirely self-serving.
According to articles by The New York Times and Artnet News, the first of many issues is that Koons had not directly offered the piece itself but rather the idea for it. Thus, all the funding for its construction was accumulated separately on french cumulated through French taxpayer income, without utilizing any of his own donations.
The second issue is that the general public opinion of the piece is that it is offensively childish in aesthetic for what is supposed to memorialize: a very somber event in French history.
The third and most notable issue is the placement and intent behind it. Multiple articles explain that the location for the piece experiences a high amount of foot traffic on a daily basis, being in front of two popular sites and just across the river from the Eiffel Tower.
Because of this placement, many French citizens argue that the piece is just a way of advertising Koons to as many people as will see it. However, as mentioned in The New York Times, this is not the first time Koons’ artwork has raised controversy.
Despite the piece being almost complete and ready for set up, the French government has postponed erecting the statue due to the mass public opposition on so many levels. While well-intended, it does not embody respect for the victims.
Even though “Bouquet of Tulips” isn’t out in public view yet, Jeff Koons is already receiving plenty of attention for it; though it may not be the kind of attention he hoped for.