The Story Behind the Flower Tree Sculpture on Hongqiao Lu

By Ned Kelly, February 26, 2022

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When Japanese artist Nobuo Sekine was asked by Art Criticism magazine whether there was any particular sculpture in Shanghai that had made an impression on him, he came back with a vehement response:

“Yes, the huge flower tree. It is so ugly! You can’t even tell if it is fake flowers or a sculpture. It’s nothing but a huge pile of garbage. I feel the urge to go there and paint it white, which may make it a bit better.”

Not the glowing endorsement its American-Chinese creator Wendy H. Moy was hoping for, one suspects.

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Made up of over 180 vividly-colored flowers, the 16-meter-high bouquet has been a divisive public artwork ever since it appeared in 2006, with some praising its vibrancy, while others view it as gaudy and tacky.

Moy doesn’t take sole blame for its appearance though – she reportedly copied it from a piece by Korean Jeong-Hwa Choi that she saw at the Venice Biennale.

Thinking that it would make a wonderfully welcoming structure for those entering the center of Shanghai, she submitted a tweaked version to the Changning District Government, who chose it from among 42 entries to appear at the intersection of Yan’an Xi Lu and Hongqiao Lu, describing it as “harmonious, full of life and without a hint of political subtext.”


For more on Shanghai's statues and sculptures, click here.

For more history stories, click here.

[Image by Nicky Almasy]

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