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François Hollande and Paul McCarthy’s “Tree” sculpture (image by the author for Hyperallergic, photos via 1, 2)

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.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

5 replies on “French President Pledges Support for Paul McCarthy’s Butt Plug”

  1. To affirm the right to freedom of expression and creation, and to protest against the attacks on the artist Paul McCarthy and his work, the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) France is organizing a flash mob Friday, October 24th at 13h, asking people to meet at the corner of rue de la Paix and the Rue Danielle Casanova.

  2. Please all people defend the masterprice of professor university best person in the world Mr. Paul McCarthy , this is very and eccelent the green tree for Christmas day .
    Freedom concet of Contemporary art istalation.
    Don’t touch by critical concent to Different Opinion by Mr. Roberto Scala

  3. W. Holland we support the international contemporary art best artist
    . Professor Paul McCarthy
    W. art W, contemporary W. Roberto Scala
    yes support art by critical art and contests writing by Roberto Scala good morning Mr. Brown

    Hi Hi Hi Ho Ho Ho art
    stupendous e bravo

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