Paul McCarthy’s giant inflatable ‘sex toy’ sculpture that was reduced to a flaccid pile on one of Paris’s swankiest squares after vandals attacked the work, has been permanently removed by the artist.
The sculpture entitled ‘Tree’ was on display at the Place Vendome in Paris, France – it was a massive, green, inflatable sculpture on the famous Paris square and had raised a storm for its resemblance to a sex toy – the artist was even attacked in the street; after being slapped by an irate Parisian.
The 24 metre-high artwork by American artist was unveiled on the Vendome Square alongside the Ritz Hotel and luxury jewelry stores, provoking a mixture of outrage and humorous comments on various social media sites, over its resemblance to a sex toy. One man actually attacked the artist; The stranger, apparently slapped the McCarthy three times, then shouted that he was not French and that his work had “no business being on the square”.
The 69-year-old contemporary artist is known for his controversial works, but was left shocked and disturbed by the attack, asking: “Does this kind of thing happen often in France?”
A police source told AFP. “Individuals waited until the security guard’s attention was elsewhere and cut the cable the kept the sculpture in place,” the source stated on condition of anonymity. “The inflated work slumped down,” the source said, adding that police were investigating the incident. An official from the FIAC contemporary art fair which staged the controversial exhibit stated that the offenders had in fact first unplugged the pump that kept the sculpture erect. The FIAC said it intended to resurrect McCarthy’s ‘Tree’ as soon as technically possible.
However, McCarthy was apparently less concerned with his commitment to maintain the sculpture; and has had the work permanently ‘deinstalled’. According to L’Express, the artist has since decided to remove the work. His decision was announced by FIAC in a subsequent statement.
“Instead of the piece being about a discussion about how objects exist as language with layers of meaning, a violent reaction occurred,” McCarthy said in a statement provided to artnet News. “I am not interested in the possibility of such confrontation and physical violence, or continuing to put those around the object at risk.”
FIAC confirmed that the decision to remove the public work from “Hors Les Murs” will not effect the rest of the program, which features works by Georg Baselitz, Christian Boltanski, Manfred Pernice, and Rebecca Warren.
Paul McCarthy’s own exhibition, “Chocolate Factory,” at the Monnaie de Paris will also open as scheduled.