|Murakami at Versailles - Oval Buddha|
|Murakami at Versailles - Guards' Room|
Following on from the inaugural contemporary art exhibition at Versailles two years ago in which the polite classes had heart attacks over Jeff Koons' sculptures, this year the guest artist at the Chateau is Japanese art super star Takashi Murakami.
|Murakami at Versailles - Kaikai Kiki|
Since it opened in September, there have been many criticisms of the exhibition. The most obvious is from royalists and traditionalists, and should be discounted for its sheer closed-mindedness and tedium, but many have also cited controversy over the choice of artist being fuelled by financial, rather than artistic, reasons. The argument being that the sponsors of the exhibition may have influenced the choice of Murakami, as with such a high profile artist, the show was sure to be a blockbuster and was sure to bring in money. Questions of influence and financial sway were perhaps more relevant for the Jeff Koons exhibition, but in both cases, if you're going to put on a contemporary art show at one of the world's most monumental historical venues, it seems befitting to choose the biggest stars on the scene.
Other detractors have bemoaned the curation of the show, saying the works do not contrast well with the setting but seem rather to have been arbitrarily placed in much the same pattern as the works in the Koons exhibition. And yet the intricate, rounded forms of the flower sculpture in the Hall of Mirrors echo perfectly the forms of the line of twinkling chandeliers, Kai Kai and Kiki play cheekily in the ballroom, and the immense bronze and gold Buddha presides magnificently (regally?) over the gardens. The silver and gold of Murakami's sculptures directly echo the silver and gold found in the chateau, particularly with the large gold lion which can be compared and contrasted to original regal golden lions we find throughout the chateau's rooms.
|Murakami at Versailles - Flower Matango - Galerie des Glaces|
|Murakami at Versailles - Oval Buddha Silver|
|Murakami at Verailles - Kinoku Isu|
|Murakami at Versailles|
Murakami, who has collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Pharell Williams, who has a factory of artists working for him and who repeatedly borrows images from manga cartoons, represents wealth, excess, popular culture. In his art, Murakami irons out the differences between low and high culture, rendering it, to borrow his own term, superflat. His gleaming, exaggerated, colourful works echo, rather than clash with, their surroundings at the grandiose abode of Louis XIV. Each room offers a delicious, decadent Murakami bonbon to be savoured in the original palace of luxury, a place that has always been about art, creativity, extravagance and beauty, the Chateau de Versailles.
|Murakami at Versailles|
The exhibition finishes this Sunday, 12th December. Brave the snow and catch it while you can!
Place des Armes, 78000 Versailles
RER C to Versailles Rive Gauche from central Paris
|Gardens at Versailles under the snow|
all images copyright Kim Laidlaw - I Heart Paris 2010