Traditionalists outraged at Versailles' modern makeover
Tuesday 14 September 2010
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."
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
Father faces deportation to Thailand after 27 years in Britain for two 'stupid crimes'
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...
£19600 - £25800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in the South, based in ...