Versailles, the quintessential French palace, has been invaded by some All-American art, much to the dismay of some French nationals. Jeff Koons, the American superstar artist, is showcasing many of his contemporary pop works in the ostentatiously gilded château. In recent years, Versailles has displayed only a select few works of contemporary artists, and even then only briefly. The New York Times explains that this current exhibition, which entails 17 pieces (an aluminum red lobster hanging from the ceiling alongside a crystal chandelier in the Mars Salon, a Plexiglas-encased display of vacuum cleaners and floor polishers in front of the official portrait of Marie Antoinette, an open-mouthed, bare-breasted blonde holding a pink panther laughing at a 1729 painting of Louis XV, a porcelainlike ceramic of Michael Jackson in the Venus Salon, amongst others), will be on display through Dec. 14.
Koons is said to have drawn inspiration for the one of the pieces, a 11-ton stainless steel sculpture covered n 90,000 live plants, from the “fantasy and control” shown by the Sun King himself. Ninety percent of the $2.8 million in financing for the exhibition came from private patrons. Koons is reportedly delighted that the first ever retrospective of his work is at Versailles, as more than 5 million people visit the chateau every year.
Not everyone is as delighted as Koons, though. Several dozen people protested at the palace gates, with one of the demonstrators declaring that the exhibition is “an outrage to Marie Antoinette.”