Paul McCarthy's artwork called "Tree" is seen at Place Vendome on October 16 in Paris, France. October 23 2014




Paris has no shortage of towering columns that amateur psychologists like to view in sexual terms. But nothing here has made the link between monumental sculpture and sexual desire as literal as a green, abstracted Christmas tree that looked disconcertingly like a “plug anal” – the mildly more polite French term for a butt plug.

The Los Angeles provocateur, whose aggressive sculptures, installations and videos have in the past stoked controversies, had installed the inflatable sculpture in the middle of Paris’s elegant Place Vendôme, home to the French justice ministry and the Ritz hotel. Yet less than a day after its installation it was gone – a victim of the conservative populist backlash that has upended French politics over the past year.


Paul McCarthy’s Tree after it was vandalised. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA


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