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 from Bilbao, truth?

It is a sculpture that 2021 itself has drawn attention to 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 that exists, the truth is that you can see a lot of it.

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

Who created the Bilbao Puppy

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

Jeff Koons is considered minimalist and neo-pop. He made more sculptures but the truth is that the one that gave him much more fame is that of Bilbao.

It was 1992 when Koons created the pup. But he didn’t do it for Bilbao but for an art exhibition in Bad Arolsen, Germany. When it was finished, the whole structure was dismantled, but not for storage but to travel to Sydney, Australia, where it was assembled at the Museum of Contemporary Art. However, it was not really “original”, because Koons, a few months earlier, had created a wooden puppy covered with large flowers for Waldeck in Germany. After completing this event, the author himself destroyed it.

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

What few people 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 since 2002 it has been one of the attractions that can be seen at the museum in Greenwich, Connecticut.

And, on top of that, there is also a “variant” dog with flowers. This was installed in the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France in 2000, and has been in many museums around the world.

how is the sculpture

bilbao puppy

Focusing on the sculpture itself, as we told you before, this is a West Highland white terrier dog. Besides, it’s very well done. It is over 12 meters high and weighs around 60 tons.

This entirely covered with flowers which are changed twice a year, in May and in autumn according to the typical flowers of the seasons. There are a total of 38,000 among which you will be able to see, from October to May, pansies, violas, daisies… even if visually it will be a “green dog” since these plants take time to flower; and from May to October, its splendor, with begonias, carnations, ageratus, petunias, alegrías and lobelias.

In fact, 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 should use, the tests they did at the beginning did not go well because they were plants which, in the climate of Bilbao, do not did not thrive well and should be changed to similar ones only if they were suitable for the temperature and weather.

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

Inside the Bilbao puppy 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 (some need more water and some less).

puppy dies

Bilbao puppy sculpture

This is the number of newspapers that headlined the news in 2021 when the museum itself asked for help to renovate the irrigation system for Bilbao’s puppies, which cost 100,000 euros.

Among the renovations they needed was the replacement of 10 kilometers of badly damaged pipeslike the rest of the irrigation system.

To do this, they launched a micro-patronage in which anyone could participate and donate a little money to reach the figure. In its first week it reached 6,000 euros and the museum itself warned that if the total they needed was not met, they would be the ones to pay the difference to prevent the pup from dying. Ultimately, more than 30,000 euros were collected and allowed to undertake the restoration of the entire internal part and the irrigation system in September 2021. This “operation” would end with the new autumn and winter flowers, so today you can continue visiting and discover this great dog.

What is the meaning of the Bilbao puppy

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 understood. On one side we have a dog that gives confidence and security at the same time, protects the museum. On the other hand, it is the flowers that bring that optimism, the fact that when you look at them a smile appears.

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

Did you know the story of the Bilbao puppy?

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