Guggenheim Bilbao Seeks $118,000 to Restore Giant Koons Sculpture

The Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain has launched a crowdfunding campaign to restore a monumental flower sculpture by Jeff Koons. Organizers are seeking €100,000 ($118,000) in donations to repair Koons’ Puppy, a 39-foot-tall likeness of a West Highland white terrier that has stood guard at the museum’s entrance for 24 years.

Over 38,000 plants, including marigolds, begonias, and petunias, comprise the work. Those flowers are replaced twice a year.

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The sculpture’s vibrant exterior remains in good shape, but a recent technical analysis undertaken by the museum’s conservation department revealed that two decades of open-air exposure had degraded parts of Puppy’s irrigation system and stainless steel skeleton. The campaign, dubbed “Bring Puppy to Life,” was launched soon after the results of that report were released.

“We decided to crowdfund because it’s a work that’s so iconic and loved and photographed and so representative of the city and we want to give all the people who love the Puppy the chance to participate in restoring what is both a work of art and a vertical garden,” Begoña Martínez Goyenaga, the museum’s communications head, told the Guardian.

Koons first exhibited the sculpture in Germany in 1992. Three years later, it was displayed in Sydney’s harbor. It was bought by the Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation in 1997 to commemorate the opening of its Spanish outpost. 

Puppy was inspired by my visits to Europe’s baroque cathedrals and the way they achieve this balance between the symmetrical and the asymmetrical and between the eternal and the ephemeral,” Koons said in an interview with the Guggenheim last month.

At time of publication, the crowdfunding campaign has so far raised about 13 percent of its goal, or nearly €13,000. The campaign will remain active through the fall. Restoration is slated to begin in late September and be completed in November.


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