The shimmering panels of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum may capture visitors’ oohs, but it’s the giant Puppy that draws all the awes. Standing at 43 feet tall, the flower-covered topiary stands out as a colorful symbol of Spain’s fifth-largest city, and will undoubtedly capture both your heart and the attention of your camera lens.
This cuddly canine giant was created by Jeff Koons, the American artist who found fame during the 80s, particularly for his pieces that hover between pop and pure kitsch. The life of this flowery man’s best friend didn’t start in Spain, though, but rather in Germany, where it was originally commissioned for a castle. Not done with traveling, the West Highland White Terrier puppy relocated to Sydney Harbour’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and ultimately to the grounds of Bilbao’s museum, where it is now part of its permanent collection. Since then, its journey has continued, making a temporary appearance in New York’s Rockefeller Center.
These days it’s back home, though, where it has become an almost universally recognizable image of Bilbao, the Spanish industrial city that rises as an artistic and culinary metropolis. Filled with over 25 tons of soil, the chrome-and-stainless-steel structure is covered in some 70,000 blooming and growing flowers that range from marigolds to begonias, petunias, impatiens and more.
Good news: The beloved Puppy can be appreciated without actually paying to enter the Guggenheim, as it is located in Aguirre Plaza, just outside the museum’s main entrance.