France’s chief of state has pledged his support for the American artist Paul McCarthy, after the artist’s 80-foot-tall inflatable sculpture “Tree,” which bares an uncanny resemblance to a butt plug, proved intolerable to prudish Parisians.
“France will always be on the side of artists, just as I am on the side of Paul McCarthy, whose work was sullied, no matter what one’s opinion of the piece may have been,” said François Hollande at last night’s opening of Paris’s Fondation Louis Vuitton, according to Agence France Presse. “We must always respect the work of artists … France is always ready to welcome artists and creatives coming from every country in the world.” Both McCarthy and his artwork were attacked, forcing the piece’s emergency de-installation.
“France is no longer herself when she is folded in on herself, tormented by ignorance and intolerance,” Hollande added hyperbolically. “The country would plunge into decline if it refused to be itself, if it was afraid of the future, afraid of the world.”
The sculpture had been inflated in Paris’s Place Vendôme as part of the public art programming surrounding this week’s art fairs in the French capital. Now, visitors to the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain will have to content themselves with just one giant erotic monument.