AO News summary: Forthcoming Takashi Murakami Exhibition at the Chateau de Versailles draws protests

September 2nd, 2010

A work by Takashi Murakami at the Palace of Versailles, via Chateau de Versailles00>

The forthcoming exhibition of works by acclaimed Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami at the Palace of Versailles has sparked protests by French traditionalists and conservative groups.  Due to open on the 14th of September, the show will feature 22 works by the artist displayed throughout the Palace and the gardens including 11 pieces created specifically for the exhibition. As with the Jeff Koons’s exhibition, which showed at Versailles in 2008, a group of traditional supporters of the historic Versailles Palace protested against a commercial and at times sensationalist artist showing work in such a landmark of French history.

More text and images after the jump…

Oval Buddha Silver (2008) by Takashi Murakami, via Chateau de Versailles

Murakami’s work, often inspired by Japanese Manga comic strips, has recently branched out with commercial partnerships and ventures.  Far right fundamentalist circles criticize the association of such activity with the historic reliquary of the Palace of Versailles. Versailles Director and former French culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon stated that the scope of the exhibition is “to give visitors to historic monuments the chance to discover art that is less familiar to them” as well as attract viewers to the Chateau itself.

A  work by Takashi Murakami at the Palace of Versailles, via Chateau de Versailles

Aillagon instead finds there to be an interesting correlation between Versailles and Murakami. “You know, the Hall of Mirrors [in Versailles] is a kind of manga, a comic strip for the glory of the king’s region,” he said in a recent interview with the Mon Versailles blog.  The Murakami exhibition is part of a series which intended to merge historical with contemporary art at the Palace of Versailles in the attempt to draw new visitors to the site.  In addition to Murakami and Koons, French pop artist Xavier Veilhan has also shown at the Chateau.

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami poses in Chateau de Versailles’ House of Mirrors,via CBC

As for the artist himself, Murakami has clearly pondered over the relationship of his work to this historic landmark of French culture and history. “For a Japanese like me, the Chateau de Versailles is one of the greatest symbols of Western history. It is the emblem of an ambition for elegance, sophistication and art that most of us can only dream of… But, in many respects, everything is transmitted to us as a fantastic tale coming from a very distant kingdom. Just as the French people find it hard to recreate in their minds an accurate image of the Samurai period, the history of this palace has become diminished for us in reality. So it is probable that the Versailles of my imagination corresponds to an exaggeration and a transformation in my mind so that it has become a kind of completely separate and unreal world. That is what I have tried to depict in this exhibition. I am the Cheshire cat that welcomes Alice and Wonderland with its diabolic smile, and chatters away as she wanders around the Chateau. With a broad smile I invite you all to discover the Wonderland of Versailles.”

Related Links:
Protesters Decry Murakami Show at Versailles [CBC]
Japan’s Pop Artists’s Versailles Show Sparks Protests [France 24]
Murakami’s Planned Show at Versailles Riles Right-Wing Critics [Artinfo]
Japan Artist at French Chateau Sparks Protest [The Independent]
Murakami Versailles [Palace of Versailles]
Murakami angers traditionalists in France with Versailles Installation [LA Times Blog]
La Froideur for Murakami at Versailles [The Art Newspaper]
Takashi Murakami: “Mon Versailles, Version Manga” [Le Figaro]

-R.A. Proctor