On the 11th of December 2019 Enrique Barón Crespo, former president of the European Parliament and of the FMA, donated the sculpture “The European” by the artist Jean-Michel Folon to mark the 40th anniversary of the direct election of the European Parliament. The sculpture which is about 30 cm high represents a man standing, very composed and with his hands crossed behind his back, who has 21 stars on his head. It has been donated to the House of European History during the annual cocktail and dinner.
About the artist: Jean-Michel Folon was born in 1934 and died in 2005. He was a Belgian artist with strong ties to the city of Florence, but also an illustrator, a painter, and a sculptor. Folon created a poster on the occasion of the first direct elections to the European Parliament that took place on 10 June 1979. It represents hope in Europe with a flying man wearing a hat and looking at the horizon. He became an UNICEF ambassador in 2004 and he has been decorated with the Order of the Legion of Honour by the former French President Jacques Chirac. Folon died in 2005, but his wish to be somehow always present in Florence was fulfilled by his widow, Paola Ghiringhelli, who decided to donate ten bronze sculptures and two plaster casts of her husband to the City of Florence so that they could be permanently exhibited in the Rose Garden in Florence.
Speech of the donator, Enrique Barón Crespo
The official handover of the statue
Group picture during the evening