Jeff Koons’ ‘Puppy’ Sculpture at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Is Donning a Facemask


Author: Jake Rossen

Date: 10/29/2020

Artist Jeff Koons’s Puppy sculpture located at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain, has always been dynamic. The 40-foot-tall depictionof a West Highland Terrier is made of flower mantles that change with the seasons. From begonias and petunias in spring and summer to pansies in winter, it’s never exactly the same thing twice.

Now Koons is offering another variation on Puppy—a face mask made from flowers.

The addition was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that’s radically altered life for citizens worldwide and serves as a reminder that public health policy could save lives.

“What an honor it is to be able to have Puppy communicate the importance of wearing a mask during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Koons said in a press release. “A Bilbao resident sent me a letter asking if Puppy could wear a mask, which I thought was wonderful idea. I was thrilled that the Museum agreed as now Puppy, adorned with a mask made of white and blue flowers, can communicate the importance of wearing a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19.


In the Science and Tech section, I focus a lot on the creative use and integration of plants and other living matter with concrete and industrial structures. I could go on about that topic here, but there is a more specific insight that I gleaned from this particular example, and that is the power to be visually dynamic. Concrete is about the furthest thing from a visually dynamic construction material. A concrete form is solid, still, and unchanging (for the most part). Flowers, on the other hand, change as they grow and bloom. They infuse colors, and respond to the environments changing weather and motions. Here, they are even replaced periodically, introducing more dramatic visual changes. This flower dog will never look the same on two different occasions. In this article, we even see a time when the giant art piece was even adapted to have a facemark, engaging with topical events of the times. If the goal is maintaining dynamism and visual interest over time, this is a breathtaking way to go about it.