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French Protest Takashi Murakami Exhibit at Versailles

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Visitors to the Palace of Versailles, the former residence of Louis XIV, expect to see the world's most lavishly decorated home. So staging an exhibition of contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s bright and kitschy sculptures in the Sun King’s royal apartments makes sense, oui?

No, not so much.

At least according to the Coordination Défense de Versailles and Versailles Mon Amour, whose members object to the “Disneyfication” of Versailles, which they say began with a 2008 Jeff Koons exhibition at the chateau. The two groups have gathered more than 12,000 signatures for their anti-Murakami petitions.

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Jean-Jacques Aillagon, the Palace's director, has decided to hold future art shows in other parts of the complex, such as the Orangery, the gardens, and the royal opera. Aillagon says he's avoiding repetition—not appeasing his critics. And, he refuses to back down from his decision to feature bold modern artists. "As long as Jean-Jacques Aillagon is president, there will be contemporary shows at Versailles," a spokesperson told Gareth Harris, writing for The Art Newspaper.

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Still, Harris wonders if contemporary art will actually be allowed in the royal apartments of Versailles again. The current show, which ends on December 12, features 22 works by Murakami, including seven sculptures and "one video with 11 specially commissioned pieces."

Personally, I think Louis XIV would have loved the lurid colors and opulence of Murakami’s over-the-top art. What do you think?


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Lyndsey Matthews in an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.


Photos from top: Flower Matango, Superflat Flowers, and Oval Buddha all ©2005-2010 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Photos courtesy of Cedric Delsaux / Château de Versailles.




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