Don't miss




Macron in Washington: Can he change Trump's Foreign Policy?

Read more


Catalonia's pro-independence movement tempted by radicalisation

Read more


Film show: 'May ’68', Director’s Fortnight reloaded, 'A Paris Education'

Read more


Macron and Trump: Dandruff diplomacy?

Read more


Big data: ‘A key democratic issue’

Read more


Susan Meiselas: Kurdistan through the lens

Read more


Global wine production drops to lowest level in 60 years

Read more


Trump and Macron media moments in the US

Read more


Photographer Clare Strand explores the causes and consequences of communication breakdown

Read more


Paris’s giant ‘butt plug’ installation vandalised

© @Flosh (Twitter) | Paul McCarthy's 'Tree' artwork lies limp after apparently being vandalised

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-10-19

A controversial artwork in the centre of Paris said to resemble a giant green sex toy was apparently vandalised overnight Friday, after critics decried the 80-foot installation as a “humiliation” for the French capital.

Called “Tree”, the piece by US artist Paul McCarthy was erected in Paris’s upmarket Place Vendôme on Thursday as part of the FIAC international art festival which begins next week.

The inflatable artwork is intended to represent a Christmas tree, according to McCarthy, but has caused outrage among some due to its resemblance to an anal plug sex toy, prompting calls for city authorities to remove it.

Feeling has been so strong that McCarthy, 69, has said he was slapped three times in the face by a passer-by as the artwork was unveiled.

Some angry Paris residents now seem to have taken matters into their own hands, with photos posted on Twitter overnight Friday showing the installation lying on its side and looking limp and deflated after apparently being vandalised.

French journalist Renaud Pila tweeted that the FIAC took the decision to deflate the artwork after a number of saboteurs cut the cords holding it up.

The art festival later announced that McCarthy had decided against reinflating the piece as "the artist was worried about potential trouble if the work was put back up".

McCarthy himself said: "Instead of a profound reflection about objects as a mode of expression with multiple meanings, we have witnessed violent reactions."

It follows a social media outcry over the artwork, with French conservative group Printemps Français (French Spring) among those criticising the piece.

The 80-foot installation was erected in the Place Vendôme in central Paris on Thursday. © Bertrand Guay/AFP

“A giant 24-metre butt plug has been erected at Place Vendome,” the group tweeted. “Place Vendome disfigured, Paris humiliated!”

But the attack on the artwork has prompted an equally strong reaction among others, including Paris’s deputy mayor Bruno Julliard.

“Shame and humiliation for France - not the temporary inflatable artwork on the Place Vendome, but the fools who have degraded it,” he tweeted.

McCarthy has asserted the piece is indeed a Christmas tree, but admitted to Le Monde Friday that he was partly inspired by the shape of a butt plug. 

“Originally, I thought that a butt plug had a shape similar to the sculptures of [Romanian artist] Constantin Brâncusi. Afterwards, I realised that it looked like a Christmas tree,” the artist told the newspaper.

“People can be offended if they want to think of it as a plug, but for me it is more of an abstraction.”

Date created : 2014-10-18


    US artist erects giant green ‘butt plug’ in Paris

    Read more


    Could France sell the Mona Lisa to pay off its debts?

    Read more


    More than 10 years later, stolen Matisse returns home

    Read more