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Following British sculptor Tony Cragg’s exhibition last year, Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye is currently showing at Paris’ iconic Louvre in the museum’s now annual display of contemporary art.

Following British sculptor Tony Cragg’s exhibition last year, Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye is currently showing at Paris’ iconic Louvre in the museum’s now annual display of contemporary art.

The Louvre -- a temple for classic art and traditional tastes -- is displaying works by the controversial artist in three different spaces in its grounds: under IM Pei’s pyramid, in the Tuileries Garden and within the museum itself.

The exhibition, which runs until 17 September, takes the form of a kind of treasure hunt with many of the artist’s 30 or so recent works in stained glass, porcelain and bronze interspersed among the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition opens with a specially commissioned sculpture displayed under the glass pyramid of the Louvre’s entrance hall. The 12m-high gothic-style twisted steel structure called Suppo -- its name and torpedo shape an allusion to a suppository -- is positioned as if to penetrate the pyramid’s point and sets the provocative tone of Delvoye’s display.

The majority of the artists’ works are to be found among the period artefacts and furniture of Napoleon III’s apartments in the Richelieu wing. Some echo the extravagance of the setting, such as his twisted bronze figures playfully referencing 19th-century sculpture, which provide an aesthetic continuum with the gold brocade curtains, flocked wallpaper and gilded ornamentation that decorate the apartments. Some works, such as the ceramic saw-blades displayed in a cabinet with period paraphernalia, blend in so well that they have to be sought out. Other works seem, at first glance, to fit in with their surroundings but incite gasps upon closer inspection, such as the bronze hunting sculpture in which two personified deer are fornicating, displayed on a dining table. And pieces like the intricately carved rubber car tyres contrast at once with the luxurious setting, but their beauty and craftsmanship actually resonate with richness of their surroundings.

Delvoye is no stranger to controversy: he is perhaps best known for his work Cloaca, an installation composed of a large machine reproducing the effects of the human digestive system to create, in essence, industrial faecal matter . And here, with controversial works such as deformed crucifixes set on the grand dining table and tapestry pigs sitting under grandiose crystal chandeliers, Delvoye is certainly examining and challenging the status quo of an institution like the Louvre.

Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes www.unlockparis.com.

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