Will there be contemporary art in Versailles' royal rooms after Murakami?
Director of the Palace insists he has not caved in to protestors opposed to his art programme
The director of the Palace of Versailles denies he has caved in to the demands of traditionalist protest groups opposed to his contemporary art programme by agreeing to no longer use the chateau’s royal apartments as an exhibition space. Jean-Jacques Aillagon has decided, instead, to mount future shows in other areas of the 17th-century site, following the furore over the current exhibition of works on show there by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami (until 12 December).
Over 12,000 people have signed two anti-Murakami petitions initiated by two factions: the Coordination Défense de Versailles and Versailles Mon Amour (VMA), which also organised a demonstration at the chateau gates during the exhibition opening last month. The group objects to the “Disneyfication” of the lavish former residence of Louis XIV, a trend it says was kickstarted by the Jeff Koons show launched there in 2008.
Anne Auger, a VMA member, told The Art Newspaper that Murakami is a “parasite that feeds on an existing work of art—Versailles. If Aillagon wants to make a packet, why not install the Murakami works in the Orangery which is empty”.
A spokeswoman for the palace responded: “As long as Jean-Jacques Aillagon is president, there will be contemporary shows at Versailles. He said that [the 2011 display] would probably not take place in the royal apartments, but in another part, such as the Orangery, gardens or the royal opera.”
Aillagon insists that the move is not “intended to make [the protestors] happy. Rather, it avoids repetition.” A French artist is scheduled to fill the slot next year, followed by Italian practitioner Maurizio Cattelan in 2012.
Aillagon, meanwhile, questions why the same protest groups did not speak out against a show of works held at the site in 2009 by French artist Xavier Veilhan, calling the traditionalist critics “xenophobes”. Auger explains that there was no action because Veilhan’s works were shown outside, away from the royal apartments.
Twenty-two Murakami works on show include seven sculptures and one video with 11 specially commissioned pieces. The palace spokeswoman declined to say if French billionaire François Pinault is among the four parties that had loaned works (the Koons exhibition held at the chateau in 2008 proved controversial when French press reports claimed that the US artist’s first major show in France could benefit Pinault by increasing the value of six works he loaned to Versailles).
The VMA website adds that: “the art market has got the nerve to produce works which have ‘aesthetic’ qualities but the only criteria is financial [gain]. This [market] is built up through a network of collectors, dealers, auction houses, museums and media which together churn out these names and push prices up.”
And Murakami? He says in an official press statement: “I am the Cheshire Cat who greets Alice in Wonderland with his devilish grin, and chatters on as she wanders around the chateau.” http://www.theartnewspape...ooms+after+Murakami/21556
and a video of the exposition: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news...tertainment-arts-11256288