Visitors arriving at Lyon, France by boat are welcomed to the city by a whimsical, eye-catching, larger-than-life Flower Tree sculpture that sits close to the bank of the Rhone. Pedestrians can easily sight the Flower Tree, too, while walking on the eastern side of Place Bellecour, the city’s immense central square.
The bouquet of 85 flowers is 6-meters (almost 20-foot) tall and is actually positioned on a smaller square, called Place Antonin Poncet, beside fountains that offer a cool mist in the summer. In winter or when clouds cover the city, the sculpture offers an expected burst of color.
Created by a Korean pop artist Choi Jeong Hwa, the Flower Tree was first created for the Lyon Biennial Contemporary Art Festival (held in years ending with odd numbers) in 2003 but has been sitting at its present location since 2007 when residents of the city decided to make it a permanent fixture.
The artist, who lives and works in Seoul, uses everyday materials to create public art that seeks to engage participation. The Lyon sculpture is made of stainless steel with a durable polyester resin coating. A “big sister” (25-meter) Flower Tree sculpture by the same artist is also on display in Shanghai.
A website for visual artists notes:
Choi Jeong Hwa’s installations invite the audience to experience these objects and materials in a new way. Viewers can touch, walk through and around the installations, creating movement through mobile, hanging pieces.
Choi Jeong Hwa challenges the status and reverence of artworks in galleries and museums by creating artworks from non traditional materials as installations, away from these formal institutions, that can be touched and experienced by an audience.
Now, a decade after it’s creation, you still can’t help but look at the Flower Tree and smile. In a city known for the ways in which it both preserves and reinterprets the classics, Lyon seems to be a perfect home for this spectacular piece of public art.
IF YOU GO
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