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It's Been a Big Year for Outrage in Public Art

Remembering the public artworks the fueled the most heated reactions in 2014.
Paul McCarthy's "Tree" in Paris, briefly.
Paul McCarthy's "Tree" in Paris, briefly.Charles Platiau/Reuters

Public art did its part this year to prove that 2014 was the Year of Outrage. (As if you needed any more proof.) Maybe it just goes to show that art is an important part of the public conversation that artworks sparked so much debate this year. Or maybe these artworks helped to show that Main Street is more divided than ever.

Some public art provoked more outrage than the artworks could stand. When the American artist Paul McCarthy erected a sex toy–shaped inflatable sculpture called Tree for his memorable solo exhibition in Paris back in October, he met immediate opposition. The French have a reputation as a chill culture when it comes to sex, but Parisians showed their puritanical side.