Parisians say NO to Jeff Koons’ tulips

The bouquet of discord by Jeff Koons

When American artist Jeff Koons and then Ambassador Jane D. Hartley announced a present to the city of Paris in November 2016, the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo was the first one to communicate and rejoice over it. Unfortunately the present, a 35 tons bouquet of tulips made in bronze, stainless steel and aluminum is a poisonous gift, financed by billionaire collectors of Koons and the original idea of commemorating the victims of the Bataclan has been polluted by a fierce battle. 

Jeff Koons’ Lobster,  in Versailles in winter 2008

A group of artists and supporters including Christian Boltanski, Marin Karmitz, Dominique Perrault, Daniel Templon and Olivier Assayas… have joined former minister Frédéric Mitterrand in fighting the project. There are two angles that are shocking: the fact that the sculpture would be installed facing the Eiffel Tower in the 16 th arrondissement, the equivalent of the upper East Side in New York, and not near the Bataclan in the very popular 11 th arrondissement where the murders took place on November 13, 2015.

Frédéric Mitterrand is one of the leaders of the anti tulip movement

The second is that it all seems to be an operation organized by the “artist”, who runs a multinational art industry and is suspected of wanting to create an image of generosity and compassion, for himself. The 10 m high project has become a symbol of “dirty” art speculation, not something that the French want to promote.

The plan was to install the monumental bouquet in front of the Museum of Modern Art

The sponsors of the project are well described in the best selling book written (in French) by Jean Gabriel Fredet,  “Requins, Caniches et autres mystificateurs”, (sharks, poodles and other mystifiers) referring to Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons among other ambitious Chinese artists. This book is a perfect portrait of the commercial art world today, and it describes the ridiculous investments that some “collectors” make in art, calling it a “parallel currency” (monnaie parallèle) … Fredet has worked as a reporter for Nouvel Observateur for thirty years and is brilliant in his “photography” of the art market.

Since Jeff Koons was shown in Versailles nine years ago in an exhibition when Jean-Jacques Aillagon, former minister of culture was president of Versailles, many art lovers have been disgusted by his work which is seen as mercantile and surfing on trends.

The “recuperation” of the Bataclan bombings is considered as one step too far by the association of victims and the minister of culture is now the sole judge of the situation. Last night, Noirmontartproduction sent out a message saying that Jeff Koons would give all the earnings from the bouquet of tulips to the Association of victims.

While both Jean de Loisy from Palais de Tokyo and Fabrice Hergott from Musée d’Art Moderne, who share the space where the statue is due to be exhibited, are For the project, a huge number of artists and members of the French art community are fighting it. I’ll let you know what happens next!


And by the way, thank you to all of you who wrote worried by the flooding of the Seine: while many private boats in Paris and houses in the suburbs have been hurt, the center of town is safe.

The petition stared by contemporary art specialist, Stéphane Corréard can be signed on this site.

(“Requins, Caniches et autres mystificateurs”, by Jean Gabriel Fredet, Albin Michel.)

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6 Comments on “Parisians say NO to Jeff Koons’ tulips”

  1. Brigid Williams

    Wonderful piece! (yours, not his) with a lot to think about. Send it back! DJT would adore the explicitly Northern European hand – and the send-up of the Statue of Liberty. I admit … he’s very good at making steel look like a balloon.
    Can’t wait for Chapter 2 …

  2. Jorge

    Laure, some have already fallen prey to the greed and sometimes manifested vulgarity of our age…the French, hopefully, are more sensible than that…Venice has surrendered before the shipwreck of Hirst, El Prado to the ephemeral gunpowder of Cai Guo-Quiang, the Guggenheim in Bilbao to Koons…and so the list goes on…read the signs of our time…they are written in heaven…do not repeat the same mistake as the Dutch – disguised in a tulip they collectively went mad…remember the Tulip Mania…the bubble exploded in 1637!!! Give them time, these modern day masters of usury and greed are bound to sink to the depths of oblivion…better to enjoy the tulips in the Tuileries while walking to see the Dutch Masters of the Golden Age!!! Accepting this Trojan Horse will give Koons and his cronies the satisfaction of the last laugh..

  3. Maria

    No matter if I liked or not,It is a matter of “taking chance” and attracting viewers at the most famous and admirable places ,in the name of compassion or charity.
    Very sensible reaction by French

  4. Maria

    No matter if I liked him or not,It is a matter of “taking chance” and attracting viewers at the most famous and admirable places ,in the name of compassion or charity.
    Very sensible reaction by French

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