Château de Versailles, Place d'Armes - 78000 Versailles, France

  • Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 1
    Title : Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 1
  • Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 2
    Title : Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 2
  • Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 3
    Title : Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 3
  • Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 4
    Title : Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 4
  • Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 5
    Title : Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 5
  • Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 6
    Title : Takashi Murakami VERSAILLES 6

Takashi Murakami Palace of Versailles, review by Marie d’Elbée

Takashi Murakami has no place in the apartment of the ‘Roi Soleil’ (Sun King) protested the conservative group Versailles Mon Amour at a demonstration on the day of the opening. For his first big retrospective in France, the artist is exhibiting in 15 rooms of the château and in the gardens.

Despite the organisers of the event having left out the most morally provocative artworks of the collection, a small part of the audience still strongly disagrees with the idea of introducing contemporary art into an historical setting, and accuses the organisers of promoting derision, futility and vulgarity.

The tone is set as the public wanders around witnessing the histories and allegories of the château mingling with Murakami’s enchanted world, inhabited by monstrous and charming dream-like characters - mischievous heirs of past myths inspired by traditional Japanese art and popular icons.

‘I am the Cheshire Cat who welcomes Alice in Wonderland with my evil smile, who chatters as she strolls around the castle. With a playful smile, I invite you to discover the marvels of Versailles’, says Murakami.

Despite the challenge for any artist to brave such a complex and visually rich environment, a real dialogue is created between the baroque exuberance of the settings and the vivid exultation of Murakami’s work, at times by opposition and at other times by association. The shimmering gold of Versailles, which has had such a strong impression upon the artist, is echoed by the precious materials used in his work.

Blurring the frontiers between popular and high art with Superflat Aesthetic, a gold foil sculpture of the television icon Yume Lion sits enthroned in the sumptuous Salon d’Apollon. Flower Matango, a piece inspired by a Japanese monster movie from the creators of Godzilla, merges superbly with the crystal chandeliers and the classic Old Master paintings of the Galerie des Glaces.

Laurent Le Bon, curator of the exhibition, and Jean-Jacques Aillagon, President of Versailles, are attempting to introduce one public to another by forcing an encounter between artworks of the past and present, by bringing the parallels of two cultures together under one roof.

Showing Murakami in Versailles temporarily brings a new meaning to the château, which itself has been made up of successive additions and afterthoughts. Contemporary art and the historical patrimony could live separately, but this would reduce them to being locked up into chronological ghettos, fossils of their times. Aillagon considers that the colourful jubilation of Murakami’s work melds remarkably with the décor of Versailles, a joyful place well-accustomed to exuberant festivities and frivolities. Moreover, Louis XIV was a king who praised development, who called upon the most advanced artists of his time to adorn his palace, as did his successors. The selection of Murakami is therefore in line with the Versailles tradition to exhibit an artist who reflects the world of our time.

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