Paul McCarthy’s giant inflatable ‘sex toy’ sculpture was reduced to a flaccid lump of plastic on one of Paris’s swankiest squares on Saturday after vandals attacked the work. 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, with the artist even being attacked in the street; after being slapped by an irate Parisian.
The 24 metre-high artwork by American artist was unveiled on Thursday on the Vendome Square alongside the Ritz Hotel and luxury jewelry stores, provoking a mixture of humour and outrage on social media, 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 and ambiguous works, but was left shocked and disturbed by the attack, asking: “Does this kind of thing happen often in France?”
Even McCarthy – known for his desire to shock the viewer – was surprised at the reception he got in Paris, better known for a more relaxed attitude toward sexual matters. On Saturday, vandals cut the cables with which the offending artwork was kept in place, leaving it slumped on the pavement and it then had to be deflated.
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.