Traditionalists outraged at Versailles' modern makeover

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Outraged traditionalists are due to demonstrate outside the Palace of Versailles tonight against an invasion of the gilded former home of French royalty by a radical contemporary art exhibition.

For the second time in two years, the management of the palace has caused uproar by displaying garish modern art – this time by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami – in the ornate halls and gardens of the palace.

A petition appealing to Jean-Jacques Aillagon, the director of the palace, and France's minister of culture Frédéric Mitterrand not to "shatter the harmony" of Versailles, has almost 5,000 signatures.

Prince Charles-Emmanuel de Bourbon-Parme, a descendant of Louis XIV, has tried to have the show banned. "This new, controversial art will lose the reputation Versailles has as the cultural window of France," he said.

"We also have to worry about disillusioned visitors who have come from the other side of the world, only to discover that at the heart of the universe of Louis XIV there is a clown-like exhibition."

Two years ago, the American artist Jeff Koons displayed works at the palace including a giant metal balloon dog and a cartoon animal's head made of flower pots. At the time, it was argued that Koons' art had no place in the "perfectly balanced" Palace of Versailles.

Koons retorted that contemporary art should not be a "prisoner of the present", and that the 18th-century surroundings

helped put his work "in the context of the history of art and of history – full-stop".

Murakami's pieces, which resemble giant children's toys, may well be seen as more kitsch than Koons' works. His collection includes the gold Oval Buddha, which is more than five metres tall and takes pride of place in the Le Nôtre gardens. Pom and Me, a portrait of himself and his dog, is one of the more curious pieces. "It represents the artist," explains Murakami, "who in Japanese tradition is of a very low social ranking."

Mr Aillagon is aware of the row the exhibition has created, but insists that the pairing of 18th-century architecture and contemporary art is justified. "I'm convinced that the pieces in these surroundings work well," he said. "Putting them together is a good idea. It is stimulating."

Murakami is philosophical about the controversy. "Even when someone scores a goal [in football], someone is going to be unhappy," he said. He respects the different opinions about his work, he said, "just as long as an extremist doesn't attack me physically."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Software House - PRINCE2, PMP

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...

Recruitment Genius: Relationship Sales Advisor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...

Recruitment Genius: Electrician - Based in Petersfield

£19600 - £25800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in the South, based in ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate