I feel compelled to write about the Jeff Koons exhibit at Versailles although I'm not exactly sure what to say. Koons, the American master of what is called neo pop art, both designed the works and curated the show of 17 works including a number done in vividly colored high chromium stainless steel. It's certainly been controversial. But the press hasn't been all bad; its run was recently extended from an original closing date of December 14 to the new one of January 4 to accommodate the crowds. (But then again, when is Versailles ever NOT crowded?)
One thing I know for sure: I'm really glad I went with a guide. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had a clue as to what Koons was really up to. That being said, while I'm not really sure I care for his work all that much, it was interesting to learn more about the thought process behind it and the choices he made in placing the different works throughout the interiors and exteriors of the chateau. There was the giant porcelain statue of Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles, all gilt and cheezy excess, sitting smack in front of a portrait of Louis XIV, the master of excess in his day. His huge Hanging Heart was placed in the stairwell where Marie Antoinette and Cardinal Rohan had what must of been a pretty tense encounter during the time of the diamond necklace affair. Moon (Light Blue), looking like a mylar balloon on steroids, was positioned at one end of the magnificent Hall of Mirrors, catching a reflection of the entire gallery. Bottom line? Versailles is an interesting place under any circumstances (even on this, my third visit to the chateau itself)and the Koons work only reinforced the feeling of being at the center of something much larger and glitzier than life.
The Hall of Mirrors as seen reflected in one of Koons' works. Thanks to Cathy Taylor for this brilliant photo.