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Pompidou Centre exhibits "too crude" sculpture rejected by Louvre

Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout and his "Domestikator" in front of the Centre Pompidou
Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout and his "Domestikator" in front of the Centre Pompidou Reuters/Charles Platiau

Paris's Pompidou Centre of modern art has agreed to exhibit a sculpture appearing to depict a man having sex with an animal after the Louvre judged it "too crude" to show on the Tuilieries Gardens.


The 12-metre-high Domestikator by Dutch sculptor Joep van Lieshout was initially to be shown in the Tuileries, which adjoins the Louvre, as part of Paris's annual International Contemporary Art Fair (Fiac).

But at the last minute the Louvre's president Jean-Luc Martinez cancelled the invitation, telling Fiac's organisers, that it was being perceived as having "too crude a vision for our traditional public in the Tuileries Gardens".

Pompidou Centre chief Bernard Blistène clearly felt that his public is made of sterner stuff and agreed that the huge wood, steel and fibreglass structure could be placed on the vast space in front of his museum, which is as famous for its bold design as for its contents.

Magnificent utopia

The work is "a magnificent utopia in harmony with the public space", Blistènedeclared.

Van Lieshout said he was "happy that visitors to the Pompidou Centre will have the chance to experience this work and I hope that it will generate questions and dialogue around the questions raised by domestication in our world".

The row comes three years after a giant inflatable sculpture resembling a sex toy was unveiled in a historic square in front of the Ritz hotel.

The piece by US artist Paul McCarthy caused uproar, especially among traditionalist right-wingers, had to be placed under guard after being vandalised.

Some 70 sculptures have been erected across Paris for the 44th Fiac.

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