Christmas tree raises eyebrows

Artist behind an inflatable sculpture in Paris’s Place Vendome slapped during unveiling

16 October 2014

AN INFLATABLE Christmas tree erected in Paris’s Place Vendome has been raising several eyebrows for its resemblance to a sex toy.

The artist behind Tree, Paul McCarthy, 69, was reportedly slapped in the face several times by a passer-by during the unveiling of the work on Thursday.

Certainly few commentators are convinced of the innocence of the title. Some have reacted with outrage, others with giggles, but already people are lining up to take forced perspective pictures.

McCarthy remains deadpan, telling Le Monde: “Originally I found that a butt plug had a form similar to the sculptures of Brâncuși. Then I realised that it resembled a Christmas tree. But it’s an abstract work. People can get offended if they want to see it as a plug, but for me, it’s more abstract.”

Paul McCarthy's 'Tree' is now on display in Place Vendôme, Paris, as part of @FIAC 2014! #art #sculpture #paris— Hauser & Wirth (@HauserWirth) October 17, 2014

It is highly likely the city authorities knew what they are getting into when they approved the work. Here for example is another Christmas piece by McCarthy entitled “Santa Claus”. (It’s safe for work, but may also raise an eyebrow).

McCarthy was also behind a giant inflatable sculpture entitled Complex Shit (which looks as you would expect) broke from its moorings in Bern in 2008, bringing down powerlines, smashing a greenhouse breaking a window to a childrens home.

When the sculpture went on show in Hong Kong last year it collapsed into a heap, so the fate of this Paris sculpture is anyone’s guess.

The city could be competing with London, where a giant blue cock has adorned Trafalgar Square for months.

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