France: Louvre censors artwork over vandalism concerns

13 October 2017
Louvre Museum management censored Dutch collective Atelier Van Lieshout's sculpture “Domestikator”, which they deemed indecent and could trigger violence.
Photo: Domestikator on display in Bochum, Germany October 2017/Atelier Van Lieshout Facebook


Louvre Museum management censored “Domestikator”, a sculpture by the Dutch collective Atelier Van Lieshout, on 26 September 2017. The artwork, which was deemed to be indecent and could trigger violent reactions, was set to be displayed in the museum’s Jardin des Tuileries as part of the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC, in its French acronym), taking place from 19 -22 October in Paris, reported Le Figaro.

The sculpture, which in an architectural building-block fashion evokes a sexual act, was removed from the programme over concerns that it might “be unwelcome” by the museum’s traditional audience, as its Louvre president Jean-Luc Martinez reasoned in a letter to the FIAC sourced by Le Monde.

The letter cited “online commentaries” concerning the “brutal” aspect of the piece, which triggered concerns that it might suffer a similar fate to Paul McCarthy’s “The Tree”, an artwork which was part of the 2014 FIAC and was vandalized. Martinez’s arguments also included the proximity of the sculpture’s projected location to a children’s playground.

Joep van Lieshout, the Dutch collective’s founder, said in an interview with the New York Times that the sculpture is “a very abstracted shape. There are no genitals; it’s pretty innocent.”

Paris City Hall attempted to mediate in the matter to relocate the artwork, but the artists deemed it was “too late” due to the sculpture’s significant weight and dimensions.

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