Anish Kapoor’s controversial Versailles sculpture is to be covered in gold leaf to mask anti-Semitic slogans used to vandalise the work earlier this month.
Kapoor had wanted the offensive graffiti to remain on show to turn the piece of art into “a lament to a state of intolerance”, but a French court has ruled the slogans must be erased and an alarm installed.
“Dirty Corner”, which has been dubbed the “Queen’s vagina” by French media, will be covered in gold leaf, in what Kapoor has described as a “royal response” to vandalism.
The funnel-shaped work has been vandalised three times since it was installed in the Palace of Versailles in June.
The anti-Semitic slogans daubed on the sculpture included “At Versailles Christ is King” and “the second RAPE of the nation by DEVIANT JEWISH activism”.
Kapoor, who is Jewish of Sephardic Iraqi origin, said he wanted the offensive slogans to remain in order for the sculpture to “carry the scars of the renewed attack”.
“I will not allow this act of violence and intolerance to be erased. ‘Dirty Corner’ will now be marked with hate and I will preserve these scars as a memory of this painful history,” he wrote on Instagram.
A court ruled the graffiti be removed immediately after Fabien Bouglé, a local right-wing councillor, filed a complaint against the artist and president of Versailles Catherine Pégard, accusing the pair of “inciting racial hatred, public insults, and complicity in these crimes [for leaving the graffiti]”.
The artist condemned the ruling, saying: "The racists in France have won a court judgement forcing the racist graffiti to be covered, blaming the artist and Versailles for inseminating racist propaganda. It is as if a woman is raped and blamed for her own rape."
Work began covering the statue in gold leaf on Monday 21 September.
A member of Kapoor’s gallery told Le Figaro: “It was important for the artist to respond to these attacks in his own way. This is an artistic answer to political violence.”
Banned, censored and 'offensive' artworks
Banned, censored and 'offensive' artworks
1/8 'My Bed' - Tracey Emin
Emin, one of the Young British Artists, created arguably her most iconic and controversial piece of art with 'My Bed'. It was short-listed for the 1999 Tuner Prize but sparked public outrage and a media furore. Emin's own bed is displayed here, surrounded by evidence of her sexual, self-destructive exploits. Stained sheets, fag butts, empty beer bottles, condom and worn underwear can all be seen in this image of suicidal depression following a major break-up.
2/8 'Christ You Know It Ain't Easy' - Sarah Lucas
This 3D piece by English artist and Tracey Emin contemporary Sarah Lucas is made from cigarette butts and depicts Christ being crucified on the cross of the English flag. It is thought to be a comment on the difficulty of quitting smoking. Lucas took up the habit aged 9. Much of her work is designed to be shocking and provocative - someone is always offended.
3/8 'Fountain' - Marcel Duchamp
This scandalous porcelain urinal, signed R.Mutt, was rejected by the Society of Independent Artists in 1917 even though the rules stated that any submission would be accepted from artists who paid the fee. Pictured here is a replica of the 1917 piece. The original is believed lost. 'Fountain' is an example of Duchamp's revolutionary 'readymades' - ordinary manufactured objects designated by the artist as art.
4/8 'The Holy Virgin Mary' - Chris Ofili
The provocative Sensation exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Museum in 1999 caused great offence. Nigerian artist Ofili's depiction of an African Madonna surrounded by black bottoms and elephant poo was called 'anti-Catholic' and 'horrible' by New York's mayor at the time. So 'horrible' that Rudy Giuliani filed a lawsuit against the museum.
5/8 'Immersion Piss Christ' - Andres Serrano
Two Catholic activists partially destroyed US artist Serrano's artwork while it was on display in the south of France. Created in 1987, it represents a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's own urine.
6/8 'Western-Christian Civilization' - Leon Ferrari
Argentine conceptual artist Ferrari often dealt with power and religion in his work, using images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary with cages, frying pans and even meat blenders. Showing Christ crucified on a fighter plane, 'Western-Christian Civilization' was a protest work against the Vietnam War. Governments were constantly battling against Ferrari - he was exiled from Brazil and a 2004 exhibition of his work was temporarily forced to close when Pope Francis intervened.
7/8 'Bacchante and Infant Faun' - Frederick William MacMonnies
This bronze statue caused an uproar in 1854 when an architect tried to erect it in the courtyard of the Boston Public Library. Modern viewers will see little to get het up about but the nude Roman wine deity's 'drunken indecency' offended the Women's Christian Temperance Union. It was taken down to the more liberal New York instead and is now exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. MacMonnies earned worldwide fame as a result.
8/8 'Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain' - Damien Hirst
No stranger to controversy, Hirst's original sculpture had no fig leaf to protect his modesty. The artist added the extra detail to prevent issues with Chinese collectors and left it in when the sculpture was displayed in Qatar. Nudity can offend Islamic culture, particularly in places where the general public has not been exposed to contemporary art.