In Depth

Louvre ditches 'bestiality' sculpture deemed too explicit

The Domestikator, which appears to show a human having sex with a four-legged creature, has found a home at the Pompidou Centre

A 12-metre tall sculpture depicting a human figure appearing to penetrate an animal figure was determined to be too sexually explicit to be featured in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Jean-Luc Martinez, the director of the world’s most popular museum, said the work “had a brutal aspect” in a letter to organisers of the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC), The Local reported.

Originally, the museum planned to house the sculpture, called the Domestikator, in the Tuileries Gardens next to the museum as part of the FIAC, but they ultimately decided against the idea.

“It risks being misunderstood by the visitors to the gardens,” Martinez said.

The Domestikator will now be housed at the Pompidou Centre after the centre decided the world should see the piece.

The sculpture was created by Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout, who was disappointed that the Louvre changed its mind. He told Reuters TV that he never meant for the artwork to be interpreted in a sexual way.

“I was surprised first of all, and then of course disappointed, because it [the Louvre] couldn’t show the art work,” he said. “I couldn’t explain my ideas to (the) larger public.”

Van Lieshout claims that his work was only meant to highlight the ethical issues surrounding the domestication of animals by humans for uses of agriculture and industry.

His steel, wood and fiberglass artwork still lives at the Pompidou Centre, where Bernard Blistene, director of the Pompidou Centre Museum, doesn’t see the obscenity most others saw in the piece.

“Obscene, pornographic? Well, obscenity is everywhere, pornography, sadly, is everywhere, certainly not in this work of art,” Blistene told Reuters.

“This work of art is funny, it is an obvious nod to the relationship of abstraction and figurative painting that co-exist in Dutch art in the 20th century. Spiritual yes, obscene no.”

The piece has already been displayed in Germany for three years where it hadn’t caused controversy.

The Louvre made the decision not to display the piece after seeing cynical comments about it on social media.

Others thought the Louvre was making a mistake and encroaching upon the artist’s freedom of expression.

In 2014, the FIAC was also involved in another artistic scandal in Paris. Vandals attacked a green inflatable sculpture in one of the capital’s squares after its resemblance to a sex toy caused uproar.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo labeled the 2014 incident an “unacceptable attack on artistic freedom”, says The Guardian.

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