Shares

The late great art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) famously said that

“when we build, let us think that we build forever…let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is come when these stones will be held as sacred.”

Well, thank goodness that Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout’s work will one day make its way back home so that his descendants can bend the knee in awe at its sanctity. France’s loss is Holland’s gain— if anything, the sheer barbarity of the Jardin des Tuileries, where the installation was originally planned, would have detracted from its magnificence.

Yes, van Lieshout calls the work of art “Domestikator”, but my naive and unrefined eye simply sees a robot shagging a dog. It’s not the first time the plebeian masses have been so ungrateful for their inheritance. Only two years ago some vandals defaced a giant inflatable green butt plug on display in Paris. When did the French people lose that famous eye for style such that they can’t see a giant inflatable sex toy or a bestial building for what it really is? Sacred stones.

The Director of the Pompidou Centre, where the masterpiece now takes sanctuary like a relic fleeing the reformation, described it as a “funny” work of art that is “an obvious nod to the relationship of abstraction and figurative painting that co-exist in Dutch art in the 20th century. Spiritual yes, obscene no.

Not quite of the Dutch Golden age or the Hague School, but part of the great Dutch artistic tradition nonetheless: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Van Lieshout.

A symbol of man’s violation of the mother Earth? A parody of our pornographic rape culture? Shining a light on Europe’s bestiality pandemic? Something to do with foreign policy? Is Van Lieshout a Luddite?

Maybe we shouldn’t look for meaning at all. While the artist says the building is “abstract”, I can’t help wondering where in such a building the kettle, shower and washing machine might go— but that is only because Van Lieshout’s abstraction is too profound for the minds of the masses to comprehend.

The descendants of the French will certainly curse their forefathers for shipping this sacred wonder back to its homeland.