Paris, France (2014) – This fall LA artist Paul McCarthy, known for his bawdy abstractions, didn’t hold back with Tree, his eighty-foot tall installation at Paris’ Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain “Hors les Murs” (or “Outside the Walls”). The somewhat ambiguous inflated green figure wavered somewhere between a Christmas tree, a Brancusi sculpture and a butt plug. Installed in the famous Place Vendôme, it sparked quite the public outcry.
Reactions in the City of Love varied from outrage to laughter. Opponents immediately set out to unplug the fans inflating the sculpture and sever the ties holding it to the ground. Even McCarthy himself was physically attacked by an unruly critic. Not long after, the sculpture was officially deflated in agreement with the artist in order to prevent further violence.
The temporary public work was displayed in relation to McCarthy’s Chocolate Factory, a concurrent exhibition at the Monnaie de Paris.
While Tree was officially taken down, many fought against its censorship. Around 60 artists protested with images of the work at the site of its installation. French president François Hollande also pledged his support along with the French Minister of Culture, the mayor and the deputy mayor of Paris.
Read more about the controversy on Hyperallergic.