At the age of 41, Joana Vasconcelos has became the youngest contemporary artist and the first woman to have her work on display at Versailles, following in the footsteps of Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Xavier Veilhan and Bernar Venet.
The use of the former home of the kings and queens of France as a venue for contemporary, generally monumental works of “art”, has been highly controversial since Jeff Koons first exhibited there in 2008. At the time of the Koons exhibition, Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon, heir of Louis XIV, filed a lawsuit claiming that the Château de Versailles is the intellectual property of Louis XIV and his descendants. The Prince and his group of royalists, the right-wing Coordination de la Défense de Versailles, lost their battle in court.
In 2010, the royalist group continued with its fight against Takashi Murakami’s show at Versailles. After a small, ineffective protest at the opening of the exhibition, the group wrote a letter to French president Nicolas Sarkozy demanding that the president of Versailles, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, be forced out of his position. It condemned what it called ” “the veritable ‘murder’ of our heritage, our artistic identity, and our most sacred culture.” The group, the Prince once again at its helm, filed a lawsuit against the organizers of the exhibition but lost in court.
It remains to be seen whether or not Ms. Vasconcelos’s work will escape the ire of the protesters. Her exhibition, which opened on June 18, will run through September 30. Here are some highlights:
- Female artist’s works fill Versailles palace (cbc.ca)
- Huge sculptures grace royal palace (reuters.com)
- Memories of Versailles (flickr.net)