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Artist's fury as Versailles 'vagina' vandalised

AFP · 18 Jun 2015, 09:45

Published: 18 Jun 2015 09:45 GMT+02:00

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Vandals have sprayed paint on a controversial sculpture in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles that has become known as the "queen's vagina," the estate's management said on Wednesday.

"Damage to the work 'Dirty Corner' was discovered Wednesday morning. It was lightly sprayed with paint. The work is being cleaned," management said.

The 60-metre (200-foot) long, 10-metre (33-foot) high steel-and-rock abstract sculpture, by British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, resembling a funnel in the form of an orifice, is set up in the garden aimed directly at the royal chateau, which attracts five million tourists a year.

The artist expressed his dismay on Thursday and lamented an "intolerance" towards art in France.

"What a tragedy. How sad," Kapoor told Le Figaro newspaper. 

"You have to put this in perspective. If this act of vandalism says something, it's that there is a certain intolerance in France towards any kind of art."

He added that the it was more of a "political problem than anything else", carried out by what he said appeared to be a small but vocal minority. 

"I hope it's just a small group of people whose voice is drowned out by the others. It's a very sad phenomenon," he added.

Inside the palace itself is a smaller work -- a cannon that fired red wax at white walls, symbolising a phallus and an ejaculation of blood.

Some French media outlets have expressed unease at the level of provocation unleashed by British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor who has described the piece as "the vagina of a queen who is taking power".

No one has claimed responsibility for vandalising the sculpture.

French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin said the vandalism was "an attack on the freedom to create" and stressed "all my support to the artist."

SEE ALSO: When art and sex collide in France to cause a stir

Kapoor, who hasn't said which queen he had in mind when he created the piece, has admitted that the work was "ambitious" but said it was not so over-the-top as the scale of the opulent Versailles.
He later seemed to stepped away from his description of the work as "the queen's vagina", but said he did not see why it was problematic.
"The point is to create a dialogue between these great gardens and the sculptures," he told reporters on June 5.
In a statement, local officials from the ruling Socialist Party expressed their "indignation" over the incident, which they branded an attack against freedom of expression.
It is "unacceptable that art, the compass of freedom, suffer because of the obscurantism of some people", they added.
Kapoor's exhibition is one of the most controversial at Versailles since the authorities in 2008 opened the palace and its grounds to contemporary artists.
In 2008, Versailles hosted works by the American artist Jeff Koons, and in 2010 by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.
In October 2014, vandals in Paris's landmark Vendome square deflated a massive sculpture by US artist Paul McCarthy that was shaped like a sex toy.
McCarthy then decided to take down the work, which had both outraged and tickled Parisians.
Story continues below…
France has a long and colourful history when it comes to art and sex colliding head on ( see link below). In October last year, US artist Paul McCarthy faced criticism (and vandalism) after unveiling what appeared to be a giant butt plug in central Paris.
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