Showing posts with label out of town. Show all posts
Showing posts with label out of town. Show all posts

December 9, 2010

Murakami at Versailles

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

Murakami at Versailles - Yume Lion (The Dream Lion)

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 

October 4, 2009

Paris Flea Market - Les Puces de Saint Ouen

One of the best things to do on a Sunday afternoon in Paris is have a mosey round the flea markets at Saint Ouen. Take the metro to Clignancourt and battle your way through the street sellers flogging fake Louis Vuitton and those thrusting counterfeit watches in your face, go past the stalls selling synthetic sportswear, get momentarily distracted by cheap converse trainers, and then turn left onto rue des Rosiers. Keep your eyes peeled and slip into one of the little passages such as the one labelled "Marché Vernaison". And all at once you will find yourself in an oasis of calm, surrounded by treasures from yesteryear...60s lamps, antique silver ware, old oak wardrobes, plastic beaded necklaces...

The market is the biggest antiques market in the world and the flea market is densely packed; follow your nose, lose yourself in the labyrinthine alleys and you will stumble across all kinds of gems. Or, I heart Paris can impart on you a bit of insider knowledge and direct you to possibly the best shop in the world ever. Or at least the best in the flea market at any event. Head towards the Place Patrick Duprez in the covered market called Marché Dauphine, and you will arrive at shop stuffed to the rafters full of buttons, brooches, ribbons, pins, feathers and all kinds of accoutrements to customise your clothes. Don't be scared to ask any of the very helpful sales team - I heart Paris asked to look at embroidered coats of arms and was presented with four boxes packed full of exquisitely embroidered badges all around the 20 euro mark. There are selections arranged by theme in a kind of record shop type set up where you can find sheets with, for example, various types of birds in plastic, bakelite or metal to pin on to your threads. In front of the shop are cheaper bits and pieces with the little bows in the photo above selling for 6 euros. This is the best haberdashers in Paris by a long shot - truly original and inspirational. I heart this shop.

Les Puces de Saint Ouen. Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Metro Porte de Clignancourt (line 4)

September 15, 2009

Xavier Veilhan at Château de Versailles

Xavier Veilhan’s exhibition at the Chateau de Versailles is now open! Following in the footsteps of American artist Jeff Koons, who provoked much controversy with his show at Louis XIV’s extravagant abode last year, French contemporary artist Veilhan is exhibiting 8 installations against the backdrop of Versailles for 2009. Veilhan has stated that he wishes to draw parralels on the fact that the chateau was modern in its time and that now it is housing this exhibition of contemporary art, so it's possible that there will be less controversy this time around.

P.S. Japanese artist Takashi Murakami has just been announced as the guest artist for 2010 though, and there's sure to be lots of outrage when that arrives...
From 13th September to 13th December 2009

July 1, 2009

Snow White at Chateau de Versailles

Last night I went to see Preljocaj's Snow White at the Chateau de Versailles and I have never been so impressed by a ballet in all my life. The setting was sublime: an open-air amphitheatre looking on to a stage floating on one of the expansive garden's ponds, the sun setting on the chateau in the distance by way of a backdrop. Even without the ballet I would have been overawed but the performance itself was spectacular - Preljocaj has stayed close to the Grimm Brothers' narrative to produce a powerful tale of love, jealousy and beauty, with emotive dance sequences for the love scenes (for which I bawled my eyes out), incredible cirque de soleil type acrobatics (for which we ooohed and aaaahed), and an extremely dramatic choreography for the iconic moment when the Wicked Step-Mother murders Snow White with the poisoned apple (gasps all round in the audience). The Jean-Paul Gauthier costumes were stunning - Snow White wearing a fluid white body suit type thing with strong shoulders, and the Prince wearing fabulous fluorescent orange accessories. At the crescendo of the performance, with tears streaming down my face, the crescent moon bathing the audience in magical moonlight, when things just couldn't get any better....they did. An array of fireworks was set off behind and around the stage - red, smokey affairs for the evil Step-Mother's last scene, and glittery golden and white streams for Snow White and the Prince's. A fairy tale performance in a fairy tail setting of the ultimate fairy tail ballet. The only downside - nothing will ever top this! Oh, and the fact that trains stop running from Versailles shortly after the performance finishes - getting home was just as epic as the ballet...