in thinking about bringing terrarium into a 16th century chapel

Flinging Open Those Stately Salon Doors


VERSAILLES, FRANCE — Two years ago, the Château de Versailles set off a predictable firestorm by displaying works by Jeff Koons in and outside its imposing buildings.

As the old saw goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity, and the Koons exhibition, organized under the directorship of Jean-Jacques Aillagon, the museum’s president, brought much that was useful to any cultural institution these days: attention and visitors. After a show last year by the French artist Xavier Veilhan, the next “guest,” starting in mid-September and running through mid-December, will be Takashi Murakami, a highly successful Japanese artist known among other things for his Manga-inspired works. The intention is to turn this into an annual event, alternating French and foreign artists. Mr. Aillagon is also planning to install some modern artistic chandeliers to replace mock-old lighting and various other decorative touches to what he sees as the more lugubrious parts of the château, as well as giving parts of the famous grounds some more recent touches. Contemporary gardeners!

The visiting contemporary art will predictably leave some people completely indifferent — after all, we are no longer necessarily surprised by unusual art turning up all over the place — and others very happy, or spluttering with rage over a “desecration” of the cultural past. This is of course the whole point of the game of contemporary art that goes Boum. We can be pretty sure that neither Mr. Koons nor Mr. Murakami shed any tears on the way to the bank no matter what is said about their work….

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