PARIS • A controversial sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor on display in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles - and informally dubbed the "queen's vagina" - was vandalised again on Sunday, this time with anti-Semitic graffiti, officials said.
Vandals had splattered the steel-and-rock sculpture with yellow paint shortly after it was unveiled in June.
It was then cleaned. Kapoor said that this time, the graffiti would remain on the work, to bear witness to hatred.
"I had already questioned the wisdom of cleaning it after the first vandalism. This time, I am convinced that nothing should be removed from these slurs, from these words which belong to anti-Semitism that we'd rather forget," the 61-year-old BritishIndian artist told the daily Le Figaro.
"From now on, in the name of our universal principles, these abominable words will become part of my work, they will overlay it and stigmatise it."
Officially known as Dirty Corner, the sculpture comprises a huge steel funnel that Kapoor has described as "very sexual".
It and the rocks around it were sprayed in white paint with phrases such as "SS blood sacrifice", "Queen sacrificed, twice insulted", "the second RAPE of the nation by DEVIANT JEWISH activism" and "Christ is king in Versailles", the palace management said.
President Francois Hollande condemned the vandalism as "hateful and anti-Semitic" and Prime Minister Manuel Valls took to Twitter to say he felt disgust and warn that the perpetrators would be severely punished. Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin said the vandalism was an "attack on freedom of creation" and the phrases were "unacceptable". "This is no more or less an act which reveals a fascist vision of art," she said in a statement after going to Versailles to inspect the damage. The sculpture, which faces the royal chateau, is 60m long and 10m high.
A source close to the investigation said the likely suspects were "individuals with ultra-conservative leanings".
"We have some ideas about those who fit the profile," the source added.
For his part, Kapoor said he was struck by the spirit behind the vandalism and its "connection with the terrible situation between Syria and Europe".
"This is what leads to the exclusion of our Syrian brothers and sisters. Shame on France for the act of a hate-filled minority! This is a violent attack against the human spirit and culture."
The sculpture is one of several by the artist that are on show in the gardens and in one room of the palace until November.
His exhibition is one of the most controversial at Versailles since the authorities opened the palace and its grounds to contemporary artists, hosting works by American artist Jeff Koons in 2008 and by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami in 2010.
Kapoor, who has said he wants sculpture to be about belief, passion or experience rather than form, has become known for his massive public works.