Anish Kapoor Forced by French Court to Remove Anti-Semitic Vandalism from Versailles Sculpture

The artist has compared the ruling to rape victim shaming.

Anish Kapoor's Dirty Corner after it was vandalized. Courtesy of Anish Kapoor.
People look at the grafitti inscribed artwork by British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor entitled "Dirty Corner" in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles in Versailles on September 11, 2015, a day after the artwork was emblazoned with grafitti for a third time. A controversial sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor on display in the gardens of France's Palace of Versailles has been vandalised for a third time, with graffiti saying "respect art" scrawled on it, the royal chateau said. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK --RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION -- (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

People look at the graffiti inscribed artwork by British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor entitled “Dirty Corner” in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles in Versailles on September 11, 2015, a day after the artwork was emblazoned with graffiti for a third time. A controversial sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor on display in the gardens of France’s Palace of Versailles has been vandalized for a third time, with graffiti saying “respect art” scrawled on it, the royal chateau said. PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images

Anish Kapoor returns to Versailles tomorrow, September 22, to commence his artistic intervention on the sculpture Dirty Corner, which has been vandalized three times since its installation in the gradens of Versailles in June.

But the artist, who initially announced that he would leave the massive steel artwork untouched after it had been smeared with anti-semitic slogans in early September, is not acting of his own accord, but rather obeying a court order.

A Versailles court ruled on Saturday, September 19, that the anti-semitic graffiti must be wiped off “without delay” from the sculptures and surrounding stones after right-leaning politician Fabien Bouglé filed a complaint with the local public prosecutor against the artist and Catherine Pégard, president of Versailles, contesting their decision to keep the graffiti as a sign of disgrace and as a reminder of the “dirty politics” that inspired the vandalism.

The sculpture, which became known as “the queen’s vagina,” was defaced with anti-semitic phrases such as “SS blood sacrifice,” “the second RAPE of the nation by DEVIANT JEWISH activism,” and “Christ is king in Versailles.”

British artist Kapoor, son of a Jewish Iraki mother and a Hindu father, took to Instagram Sunday morning to express his anger and disappointment with the French court’s ruling. He posted a picture of the work covered in black plastic wraps to conceal the vandalism, announcing that the “racists in France have won.”

He also compared the judgement to the shaming of rape victims: “It is as if a woman is raped and blamed for her own rape.”

In his court complaint, Bouglé twistedly argued that “Catherine Pégard and Mr. Anish Kapoor fully recognize the anti-semitic content of these slogans,” and are therefore complicit if they leave the sculpture untouched.

Bouglé’s intentions seem especially dubious given that he commented favorably on the very first attack on the work in June, calling it “an artistic expression” and referring to the act as “poetic justice.”

However, in an exclusive interview with the French paper Le Figaro on Sunday, Kapoor was defiant. “I will not give in to the attackers. They are vile. I will not withdraw Dirty Corner, even if the idea occurred to me in moments of sadness and discouragement” he said, adding that he didn’t regret having accepted the invitation to exhibit in Versailles.

People look at the grafitti inscribed artwork by British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor entitled "Dirty Corner" in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles in Versailles on September 11, 2015, a day after the artwork was emblazoned with grafitti for a third time. A controversial sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor on display in the gardens of France's Palace of Versailles has been vandalised for a third time, with graffiti saying "respect art" scrawled on it, the royal chateau said. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK --RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION -- (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

People look at the grafitti inscribed artwork by British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor entitled “Dirty Corner” in the gardens of the Chateau de Versailles in Versailles on September 11, 2015, a day after the artwork was emblazoned with grafitti for a third time. A controversial sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor on display in the gardens of France’s Palace of Versailles has been vandalised for a third time, with graffiti saying “respect art” scrawled on it, the royal chateau said. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK
–RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION — (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

The artist didn’t reveal his plans for his artistic intervention to alter the work in compliance with court orders. However, he did sound excited about it, saying: “I hope this new answer to the aggression will open a different debate on art. Some may find it better than before. Other less so. This is how artists face the real world. This is my royal surprise!” 

Related stories:

Anish Kapoor Deeply Saddened by Vandalization of “Vagina Sculpture” at Versailles

Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor Joined by Activists in Protest March for Refugees

Anish Kapoor Calls Aggressive Immigration Policies “Ridiculous” and Says Art Could Solve Global Warming

Anish Kapoor Furious as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Calls Cloud Gate Plagiarism ‘Flattery’


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