How To Talk About Paul McCarthy


What, I ask you, should one expect if one asks artist Paul McCarthy to create a Christmas tree for the place of honor at a renowned, must-attend art fair? Well, it’s Paul McCarthy, so there are only two possible outcomes: a turd or a butt plug.

This year, Paris got a butt plug. A — sah-weeeeet! — whopping, elegantly unembellished, minty green butt plug! Nicer than that gaudy, decked out whore of a tree that New York City erects at Rockefeller Center every year. Even, I’d say, in better taste.

“Of course this work is controversial,” said Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) director Jennifer Flay, “it plays on the ambiguity between a Christmas tree and a plug: this is neither a surprise nor a secret.”

But despite his predictability and rather tasteful, understated delivery, the art world’s most reliably scatological artist managed to shock people with his contribution to FIAC’s “Hors les Murs” (or “Outside the Walls”) sector.

How did that happen?

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