founded in 1995, Domestikator
(2015) was slated to go on view October 19th in the Musée du Louvre
’s Tuileries Gardens. The 40-foot-tall sculpture, “whose outline depicts copulation,” the New York Times
wrote, provoked concern from the Louvre’s director, Jean-Luc Martinez. “It risks being misunderstood by visitors to the gardens,” Martinez relayed in a letter to the art fair FIAC, which had organized for the sculpture to be a part of its public art program in the Tuileries. But the design of the work is hardly a surprise: The piece has been on view at Ruhrtriennale art festival in Bochum, Germany, for six weeks each year for the past three years. While there, Domestikator
, part of Lieshout’s ongoing “CryptoFuturism” series, served as a structure that viewers could enter and climb inside. The work is meant to provoke thoughts on how humans attempt to domesticate the world around them, while surveying the landscape. (The piece was taken down in Bochum on Wednesday, as was previously scheduled). “The censored artwork is a liveable architectural sculpture, 12 metres in height, with a humouristic and provocative representation of the domestication of human beings in the world,” the Carpenters Workshop Gallery, which represents Atelier Van Lieshout, said in a statement. Johan Simons, artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale, critiqued the Louvre’s decision in a statement, noting that Domestikator
could and should provoke a range of responses, but that “one has to have the chance to see it” for there to be any dialogue. “A museum should be an open place for communication. The task of the museum and the press is to explain the work,” van Lieshout told the Times.
The artist’s work has been exhibited in numerous museums including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum
and New York’s Museum of Modern Art
. His decades-long practice frequently involves irreverent large-scale works that play with taboos—including Wombhouse
(2004), which invited viewers to experience and touch mock human organs.