Atelier Van Lieshout’s Domestikator in 2015. Photo: Atelier Van Lieshout.

Louvre Prevents Exhibition of Sexually Explicit Artwork Selected for FIAC Art Fair

The Dutch art studio Atelier Van Lieshout’s architectural work Domestikator—which resembles a couple having sex—will not go on display in the Tuileries Gardens toward the end of this month, writes Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper, due to the piece’s explicit nature. It was originally selected to be a part of the FIAC art fair’s “Hors les Murs” (Outside the Walls) public art program. The French newspaper Le Monde reported that Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre’s director, had sent a letter to the fair’s organizers with concerns about the piece, mentioning that “online commentaries point out this work has a brutal aspect; it risks being misunderstood by visitors to the gardens.” The work was also going to be situated close to a children’s playground.

“The censored artwork is a liveable architectural sculpture, twelve meters in height, with a humoristic and provocative representation of the domestication of human beings in the world,” said the London-based gallery Carpenters Workshop in a statement, which represents Atelier Van Lieshout. “The act of domestication, however, often leads to boundaries being sought or even crossed. It is this difficult balance that Atelier Van Lieshout seeks to address.”

The gallery did say that FIAC and the city of Paris offered to find a different site for the work, but, in the end, they couldn’t with the fair being so close at hand (it opens October 19 and runs until October 22). Domestikator is currently on view at the Ruhrtriennale in Bochum, Germany, as part of an exhibition closing today.