I have a hard time deciding if I like the idea of modern art being exhibited at the Chateau of Versailles. It can be rather jarring to see curvy, shiny art installations in a symmetrical place such as Versailles that is already so busy with gilt panels, painted ceilings, intricately patterned wood floors, ornate pieces of furniture and views from the window that are beyond fairytale imaginings. Then there will be a piece that hits the right note with me, and I wonder, "Am I being too stodgy about what can be connected to Versailles?" (I've actually created my own website dedicated to the history of Versailles: http://www.lifeatversailles.com/)
This internal debate was renewed with pictures sent to me by my brother-in-law (merci beacoup!!) while he was visiting the Takashi Murakami Exhibit at Versailles, which runs until December 12th this year. It's Murakami's first major exhibition in France and has been received with a mixed response similar to that which greeted the Jeff Koons modern art presentation at Versailles in 2008. There are 22 works in total, 11 of which were created specifically for this exhibition. Reading the short essay by Laurent Le Bon, curator of this exhibition, he raises a good point about why this type of project should happen at Versailles: "Artistic creation contributes a little to breaking the clichés surrounding this location which materialise in the uses of the spaces....By revealing its complexity, its substance, its different layers which have been buried under habit, it is a question of offering new points of view of a site which everyone believes they already know."
While I may not like every piece and placement, I think it's a smart idea to create a surprising mix like this because it breaths life into a place that seems removed from our modern world. People who wouldn't normally visit Versailles will come for Murakami, and people who would go to Versailles no matter what are challenged to examine further the place they know/think they know.
What the statue above is looking out upon:
My favorites are the Murakami flowers- they are pretty and the most harmonious with their surroundings.
How do you feel about Murakami at Versailles?