Japan artist at French chateau sparks protest

A show of outlandish sculptures by a cult Japanese artist in the historic Chateau of Versailles near Paris has enraged traditionalists who say it dishonours France's past.

From September 14 to December 12, visitors to Versailles will see eye-grabbing multicoloured statues in silver, fibreglass and metal by Takashi Murakami alongside the chateau's ornate murals and chandeliers.

"The Chateau de Versailles is one of the greatest symbols of Western history," Murakami said in a statement on the museum's website.

"The Versailles of my imagination... has become a kind of completely separate and unreal world," he added. "That is what I have tried to depict in this exhibition."

Versailles enthusiasts however branded it an outrage to their beloved museum in the posh Paris suburb.

"Murakami and company have no business in the Chateau of Versailles!" reads a message on the website Versailles Mon Amour, dedicated to a petition which it says has gained more than 3,500 signatures.

"The chateau is not a billboard but one of the symbols of our history and our culture," it says.

French King Louis XVI was driven from the chateau by revolutionaries in 1789 and guillotined four years later. His ancestor Louis XIV had set up court there in the 17th century, living in his royal apartments - site of the new exhibition.

The museum's director, former culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon told AFP the protests "come from far-right fundamentalist circles and from very conservative circles."

Such groups see Versailles as "a reliquary of nostalgia of (pre-revolution) Ancien Regime France, of a France that is turned in on itself and hostile to modernity," Aillagon added.

Murakami has a global cult following, but his brash, colourful style and sometimes gleefully obscene subject matter are not to everyone's taste.

The 47-year-old artist's work evokes the look of "manga" comic books, perhaps most famously in the 1997 statue Hiropon, which depicts a large-chested girl skipping over a "rope" of spurting breast milk.

In another sculpture, "My Lonesome Cowboy", a naked young man finds a novel use for his own semen.

These two works are not part of the Versailles exhibition, but Anne Brassie, a local literary critic who launched the petition, cited them as showing that Murakami was not worthy to have his work displayed in Versailles.

"The young man with an erect penis whose sperm forms a lasso, the little woman with big breasts whose milk forms a skipping rope - these have no place in the royal apartments," she told AFP.

Another patriotic cultural group, Versailles Defence Coordination, also launched a petition which it said has gained more than 4,000 signatures. Its leader Arnaud Upinsky said the exhibition was "illegal".

Aillagon said the works in the show "were chosen carefully so they could be seen by everyone."

They include "Oval Buddha Silver", a meditating silver figure with a huge globular head, and the multicoloured psychedelic sculpture "Flower Matango".

The Murakami show is one in a series of contemporary art installations in the chateau, launched by Aillagon. The first such show in 2008, with bright and bizarre sculptures by the US artist Jeff Koons, also angered traditionalists.

Prince Charles-Emmanuel de Bourbon-Parme, an heir of Louis XIV, tried to get it banned, saying it dishonoured his family's past, but the courts dismissed his bid.

Visitors flocked to the Koons show and to the second in the series in 2009, with works by French pop artist Xavier Veilhan including futuristic purple horses, a naked woman, and a colossal four-metre (13-foot) long Yuri Gagarin.

Aillagon said the series "aims to give visitors to historic monuments the chance to discover art that is less familiar to them, and to those who want to see Takashi Murakami or Jeff Koons to come to the chateau where they wouldn't normally come."

The organisers of the site said a "playful" demonstration was planned in front of the chateau on the day of the exhibition's opening.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game