by Benjamin Sutton
A naughty bit of public statuary by Atelier Van Lieshout that was due to be featured in the outdoor sculpture program of Paris’s FIAC art fair has been blocked by the Louvre. “Domestikator,” a 2015 piece by the sculpture studio founded by Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout, is a large, red, architectural work in the shape of a standing humanoid figure doing the dirty, doggie-style, with another figure — possibly a human on all fours, or perhaps an animal of a different species.
Atelier Van Lieshout, "Domestikator" (2015)
“Stories on the internet are circulating and attributing a brutal message to this work, which risks to be badly received by the public in the gardens,” Louvre Director Jean-Luc Martinez wrote in a letter to FIAC’s organizers last month, according to Le Monde. Martinez may have been particularly worried that Atelier Van Lieshout’s structure could stir the same kind of widespread public outcry faced by the Guggenheim Museum in New York recently for planning to show works that involved the mistreatment of animals. He may also have been wary of setting off another #ButtPlugGate, given the unfortunate fate met by Paul McCarthy’s inflatable sculpture “Tree” in 2014, when it was featured in FIAC’s public art program on the Place Vendôme.
“I don’t find this work provocative, certainly no more than what circulates on social media,” van Lieshout told Libération. “But today there is so much self-censorship, museums are so afraid of commentary that they exclude or forbid a great deal of things for fear of inflammatory polemics on Facebook and Twitter. But it’s the role of museums to explain artworks and to give visitors the information they need to understand them.”……………..