What is the puppy of Bilbao

What is the puppy of Bilbao

If you live in Bilbao, have visited it recently or have been attentive to the news, then surely you will meet the puppy of Bilbao, true?

It is a sculpture that 2021 itself drew attention asking for "help" to return to what it was. Today we tell you his whole story.

What is the puppy of Bilbao

puppy covered in flowers

The Bilbao puppy is a dog. Yes, a four-legged "friend." It's actually a sculpture that you can find in the Guggenheim gallery in Bilbao. It is not the only sculpture there is, the truth is that you can see many.

But focusing on this dog, the most striking thing is how it is made. And it is that this West Highland White Terrier, the breed of dog that simulates the sculpture is built using a steel structure. And it is surrounded by flowers with an internal irrigation system (irrigation) so that they do not wither.

Who created the puppy of Bilbao

The author of this sculpture is Jeff Koons. He is known as the most expensive and most controversial author in the world. That makes him have both supporters and detractors.

Jeff Koons is considered minimalist and neopop. He has made more sculptural works but the truth is that the one that has given him much more renown is this one from Bilbao.

It was in 1992 when Koons created the puppy. But he did not do it for Bilbao but for an art show in Bad Arolsen, Germany. When it was over, the entire structure was dismantled, but not for storage but to travel to Sydney, Australia, where it was assembled in the Museum of Contemporary Art. However, it wasn't really that "original", as Koons, a few months earlier, had created a wooden puppy coated with large flowers for Waldeck in Germany. After finishing this event, the author himself destroyed it.

In 1997, the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation bought the sculpture and brought it to Spain, specifically in the Bilbao Museum. It is currently an icon and when you visit Bilbao it is one of the things you should never miss.

What not many know is that the Bilbao puppy is not unique. There is a copy. This was exhibited at the Rockefeller Center in New York. It was in 2001. But as of 2002 it is part of the attractions that can be seen in the Greenwich museum, in Connecticut.

And, in addition to this, there is also a "variation" of dog with flowers. This was installed in the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France in 2000, and has been in many museums around the world.

how is the sculpture

puppy bilbao

Focusing on the sculpture itself, as we have told you before, it is a West Highland white terrier dog. Also, he is very well done. It measures more than 12 meters high and weighs about 60 tons.

It completely covered with flowers that are changed twice a year, in May and in autumn depending on the typical flowers of the seasons. There are a total of 38.000 among which you can see, from October to May, pansies, violas, daisies... although visually it will be a "green dog" since these plants take time to flower; and from May to October, its splendor, with begonias, carnations, ageratos, petunias, alegrías and lobelias.

Actually, these flowers are very varied and depend above all on the weather in Bilbao. Despite the fact that Koons came to advise on the type of flowers they had to use, the tests they did at the beginning did not go well since they were plants that, in the climate of Bilbao, did not prosper well and had to be changed for similar ones that if they were adapted to the temperature and inclement weather.

With regards to internal structure, is made of stainless steel and is founded on a concrete base. It withstands the wind because it is covered by peat and steel plants as horizontal and vertical little things. In this way, it gives it more consistency and also prevents it from falling. This peat is secured with green geotextile and to introduce the flowers what they do are small circles through which they put the roots of the plants.

Inside the puppy of Bilbao there is an internal irrigation system to be able to water the plants and that they do not wither. Therefore, it is divided into four sections for personalized irrigation of each section of plants (there are some that need more water and others less).

puppy dies

Bilbao puppy sculpture

This is how many newspapers titled the news in 2021 when the museum itself asked for help to renovate the Bilbao puppy irrigation system, which cost 100.000 euros.

Among the renovations they needed was the replacement of the 10 kilometers of pipes that are badly damaged, like the rest of the irrigation system.

To do this, they launched a micro-patronage with which anyone could participate and donate some money to reach the figure. In its first week, it reached 6000 euros and the museum itself warned that, if the total they needed was not reached, they would be the ones to put up the difference to prevent the puppy from dying. Finally, more than 30.000 euros were raised and allowed the restoration of the entire internal part and the irrigation system to be undertaken in September 2021. This “operation” would end with the new autumn and winter flowers, so today you can continue visiting and discovering this tall dog.

What is the meaning of the puppy of Bilbao

The reason or what Jeff Koons wanted to represent with his work, in addition to attracting those who saw him from afar, is "optimism, confidence and security".

And he really got it. On the one hand, we have a dog that gives confidence and security at the same time, protects the museum. On the other hand, the flowers are the ones that bring that optimism, the fact that, when he looks at himself, a smile appears.

The truth is that, throughout the day that it receives visitors, there is no camera, mobile phone or person who does not want to take a photo with this sculpture and the smiles when seeing it are contagious.

Did you know the history of the Bilbao puppy?


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