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‘Animal sex’ sculpture too racy for Louvre finds home at Pompidou centre

After the Louvre museum said 'non' to the 'Domestikator' sculpture judging it to be too risqué, the nearby Pompidou centre agrees to host the artwork which appears to show a human having sexual intercourse with a four legged creature.

'Animal sex' sculpture too racy for Louvre finds home at Pompidou centre
Photo: Atelier Van Lieshout

The Local reported earlier this month how the famous Louvre museum in Paris decided to axe plans to display a “sexually explicit” sculpture in the Tuileries Gardens, just weeks before it was set to be revealed.

The sculpture, entitled Domestikator and put together by the Dutch artist Joep Van Lieshout, shows what appears to be a box-shaped human in a sexual act with a box-shaped animal or just perhaps another person. 

The director of the iconic Louvre museum, Jean-Luc Martinez, sent a letter to the organisers of the FIAC contemporary art fair, saying the work “had a brutal aspect”.

“It risks being misunderstood by the visitors to the gardens,” he added, reported Le Monde newspaper.

His decision angered the organisers of FIAC but now the nearby Pompidou has stepped in to make sure Parisians can make their own minds up about “Domestikator”.

A defiant Bernard Blistene, director of the Pompidou Centre Museum told Reuters: “Obscene, pornographic? Well, obscenity is everywhere, pornography, sadly, is everywhere, certainly not in this work of art.

“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 artist himself insists the 12-metre-high sculpture is not sexually explicit and says his work is to highlight the domestication of animals by humans for agriculture and industry.

France has played host to a series of clashes between art and sex in recent years, which we have pulled together in a gallery of images. Click on the link below.

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ARCHITECTURE

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the
crowds.

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.

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