10 artworks that caused a scandal

10. Paul McCarthy, Tree, 2014

Occasionally, the urge to censor a controversial work has been acted upon by offended observers rather than cautious curators. Such was the case in October 2014, when US artist Paul McCarthy’s huge inflatable sculpture Tree, erected as a Christmas display on the Place Vendôme in Paris, was fatally toppled by vandals and subsequently deflated. Once the sculpture’s close resemblance to the shape of a sex prop was pointed out by commentators – a kinship that was, then, impossible to un-see – there was no protecting the colossal work from assault. Nor did the artist himself escape unscathed. An outraged attendee at the sculpture’s installation confronted McCarthy and slapped his face three times before zipping off, like a popped balloon, into the crowd.

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