Architecture, Museum Exhibitions, Women in Art

Is the Palace of Versailles the Right Venue for Exhibiting Monumental Contemporary Sculpture? Well Once Again it is Being Used as Such, and This Time it’s Portuguese Sculptor, Joana Vasconcelos.

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:

‘Lilcoptère’, 2012
Bell 47 helicopter, Ostrich Feathers, Wwarovski Crystals, Gold Leaf, Industrial Coating, Dyed Leather Upholstery Embossed with Fine Gold, Arraiolos Rugs, Walnut Wood, Wood Grain Painting, passementerie
300 x 274 x 1265 cm
Collection of the Artist; Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadi

‘Valquíria Enxoval’, 2009 [Valkyrie Trousseau]
Drawn-Thread Work and Other Embroideries, Felt Appliqués, Bobbin Lace, Tatting, Quartz-Decorated Pottery, Handmade Woollen Knitting and Crochet, Fabrics, Ornaments, Polyester, Steel Cables
400 x 530 x 1400 cm

‘Marilyn (PA)’, 2011
Stainless Steel Pans and Lids, Concrete (2x)
290 x 157 x 410cm
Collection of the Artist; Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia

‘Mary Poppins’, 2012
Handmade Woolen Knitting and Crochet, Industrial Knitted Fabric, Fabrics, Ornaments, Polyester, Steel Cables
700 x 600 x 600 cm
Collection of the Artist; Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia

‘Royal Valkyrie’, 2012
Handmade Woolen Crochet, Industrial Knitted Fabric, Fabrics, Ornaments, Polyester, Steel Cables
Dimensions Variable
Collection of the Artist; Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia

‘Blue Champagne’, 2012
Pommery Pop Champagne Bottles, Metallized and Thermo Lacquered Iron, Ultra Bright Leds, Electric System
(2x) 940 x ø 496 cm
Collection of the Artist; Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “Is the Palace of Versailles the Right Venue for Exhibiting Monumental Contemporary Sculpture? Well Once Again it is Being Used as Such, and This Time it’s Portuguese Sculptor, Joana Vasconcelos.

  1. The Prince of Bourbon-Parme is, more than anything, an attention-seeker. It’s an exhibition, not a permanent fixture. It doesn’t alter the background, in fact, the contrast calls great attention to it.

    Posted by pinkagendist | June 22, 2012, 7:21 am
    • Thank you, Pinkagendist. I would be on the side of the good Prince, not that I am a Carlist nor do I in any way espouse Monsieur le Prince’s politics. It simply seems to me that the Palace of Versailles is one of the most harmonious and sublime edifices on the planet and does not in any way benefit from the injection of the works in question, nor does it enhance those. The very idea of using Versailles as a gallery for displaying such productions is utterly baffling to me.

      Posted by elliottingotham | June 22, 2012, 9:26 pm
  2. Elliott, have been waiting to see what you would say about this. These are temporary exhibits, aren’t they? If so, I guess that they are just passing fancies and will be lost in time just like other passing fancies. The President of Versailles has his agenda. At least nothing is being destroyed and or irreparably harmed.

    Posted by Dennis Aubrey | June 22, 2012, 10:28 am
  3. The temporary status of the exhibits does not mitigate their obscenity in the Palace of Versailles.

    Posted by jan0eliz | June 22, 2012, 12:16 pm

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