07/03/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
Granted, there are a few things you notice about Puppy right off. For example, he's four-stories high, predominantly green and weighs more than 100 tons. But his most remarkable quality is probably best appreciated by dog owners: This is perhaps the first canine in history who smells terrific after a downpour.
Puppy—a giant sculpture of a West Highland terrier, covered in greenery and flowering plants, that will sit attentively in the middle of Manhattan's Rockefeller Center all summer—is the work of artist Jeff Koons, who was inspired to create it in 1992 after a visit to a castle in Germany led him to thoughts of princes and their artistic whims. "I just imagined Louis XIV waking up one morning and telling his staff, 'I want to see a floral puppy in the garden,' " he says, "and he'd leave for the day and come back in the evening, and there it would be."
Koons, 45, a New Yorker whose high-profile 1991 marriage to Euro-porn princess Ilona "La Cicciolina" Staller ended in divorce and a protracted transatlantic court battle over their son Ludwig, 7, created his first version of Puppy in Arolsen, Germany, in 1992. Next came a puppy for Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art, which was later dismantled and shipped to Spain, where it stands year-round outside the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Koons notes that although the latest Puppy, covered with marigolds, impatiens, petunias and begonias, is still mostly green, "the flowers are young and growing, and over time they will bloom."
And cats everywhere will feel a little pang of envy.