After a rough start for Paul McCarthy’s 80-foot tall “Tree,” which included a few punches and name calling by people unhappy with the artist’s provocation, the inflatable green sculpture has been, well, unplugged.
Within a day of being unveiled, “Tree” was already the target of critics, who turned off the fan keeping it inflated on Friday night. Later, several straps that were keeping the work securely in place were severed, according to Le Figaro. Eventually, authorities decided to deflate the sculpture after the artist agreed that its time in Place Vendôme was over.
Le Figaro reports that McCarthy said (translation mine):
Au lieu d’engendrer une réflexion profonde autour de l’existence même des objets comme mode d’expression à part entière, notamment dans la pluralité de leur signification, nous avons assisté à de violentes réactions. (Instead of generating a deep reflection on the very existence of objects as a means of expression in itself, especially in the plurality of its meaning, we have witnessed violent reactions.)
La dégradation volontaire d’une œuvre, quel que soit le jugement esthétique qu’elle inspire, n’est pas seulement une infraction pénale. C’est une atteinte insupportable à la liberté de création. Sans parler de l’agression physique d’un artiste. Soutien à Paul #McCarthy (Voluntary degradation of a work, whatever the aesthetic judgment it inspires, is not only a criminal offense. This is an intolerable infringement of creative freedom. Not to mention the physical assault of an artist. Support Paul #McCarthy)
While the work is no longer on display, the controversy has certainly generated a lot of interest in McCarthy’s large Chocolate Factory show, which opens next week in Paris.
Needless to say, #pluggate, as some people have been calling it, is already being meme-ified: