27th May 2024
The Jeff Koons 'Puppy' sculpture at the Guggenheim Bilbao.
Art Basque Country Culture

Campaign to save iconic Puppy sculpture at Guggenheim Bilbao

An eye-catching and iconic feature at the entrance to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao that has been displayed for over 24 years is at risk, resulting in a crowdfunding campaign to raise 100,000 euros to restore the flower covered Puppy sculpture, created by American artist Jeff Koons.

The artwork is covered in 38,000 flowers that include marigolds, begonias and petunias, replaced twice a year to maintain the 13-metre-tall sculpture of a West Highland Terrier.

To ensure the continued life of the piece, the irrigation system needs repair work to fix leaks and the stainless-steel structure that holds the flowers also needs restoring.

Speaking about the project, the head of the Museum’s communications, Begoña Martínez Goyenaga, said, ‘We decided to crowdfund because it’s a work that’s so iconic and loved and photographed, and so representative of the city, that 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’.

Many who visit the museum would not be aware of the repair work required, as the flowers that cover the structure continue to show the artwork as it was always intended.

The Jeff Koons 'Puppy' sculpture at the Guggenheim Bilbao
The Jeff Koons ‘Puppy’ sculpture at the Guggenheim Bilbao. (Guggenheim Museum(

Underneath, however, requires urgent work to allow the artwork to continue to be a centrepiece of the entrance to the world-famous museum.

Head of Restoration, Ainhoa Sanz, told The Guardian that ‘the exterior is fantastic and hasn’t deteriorated at all. We want it to be in good shape for the next 25 years’.

The sculpture was first displayed at a contemporary art exhibition, Documenta 92, in Kassell, Germany. Following that, it was moved to the harbour in Sydney in 1995, where it remained until being bought by the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation for its new museum in Bilbao that opened in 1997.

Now an infamous feature of the museum, that is popular with both art lovers and tourists, the campaign that is being termed ‘Bring Puppy To Life’ aims to restore Jeff Koon’s artwork and ensure it remains a focal point for many years to come.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper recently, a museum spokesperson said that it ‘has chosen to enlist the collaboration of society to ensure that this beloved and representative work will remain in great condition’.

Explaining the reasons for maintaining the artwork, the museum highlighted that ‘it has become an icon of the museum and Bilbao itself, and as such, it must always look gorgeous’.

So far, approximately 16,000 euros has been raised in the campaign, with restoration work expected to start in September and be completed by mid-November if the full funding can be obtained.

With ticket sales from international tourists expected to be lower again this year due to the pandemic, it is increasingly important that the campaign is successful to ensure the continued life of the iconic and much-loved the Puppy.

Click here for full details of the Bring Puppy To Life appeal.

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