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Ryan Humphrey’s Christmas tree toppers (all images courtesy the artist)

The art world’s favorite dirty joke of 2014 — Paul McCarthy’s suggestive “Tree” inflatable that caused Paris’s prudes to perk up back in October — is coming home for the holidays. The artist Ryan Humphrey has turned the rotund and risqué sculpture into a charming topper for your Christmas tree.

Available in McCarthy’s original green as well as blue, red, black, and gold, the small-scale trees are a steal at just $35 apiece — though the price of “Tree” remains unknown, another giant McCarthy inflatable, “Balloon Dog,” sold for $950,000 following its star turn at Frieze New York in 2013. Each 10.5-inch-tall topper is screen printed on birch plywood and, per Humphrey’s Etsy listing, comes with “two strips of Velcro attached to the back for easy mounting (no pun intended).”

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Benjamin Sutton: What gave you the idea to turn McCarthy’s sculpture into a Christmas tree topper?

Ryan Humphrey’s Christmas tree topper in a shade of green matching Paul McCarthy’s original “Tree” (click to enlarge)

Ryan Humphrey: I actually was commissioned to make the first two as wedding presents for an art collector a little over a year ago just as objects. I made several out of 1/2″ material and turned some into ornaments, and have had some sitting around, and thought they were the perfect tree topper, so I made some out of 1/4″ material and expanded the colors to green after Mr. McCarthy’s tree and silver and gold for Xmas.

BS: Did you base your work on images of McCarthy’s sculptures, or on an actual butt plug? Or is it a hybrid of multiple plug and plug-like objects?

RH: I went to the sex toy store on Bleecker Street and even enlisted one of the employees to give me her opinion on which one was the most iconic. I literally took a snapshot of it with my phone and ran it through Photoshop and had a screen made.

BS: What did you think of the controversy over McCarthy’s “Tree” sculpture? Were you in favor of keeping it in place, or were you happy when they took it down?

RH: I think a butt plug is just about as funny and dumb as an object as you can get. I love his toy-like sculptures and I think it was a great public work, and the scale and color made it even more interesting. It is unfortunate that it was taken down. However, anytime you can get a French guy to take a swing at you, you know you have done your job well.

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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...