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Murakami Takes Over Versailles




Flower Matango, a sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, on view as part of Murakami's exhibition at the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris. (Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images)

Flower Matango, a sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, on view as part of Murakami's exhibition at the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris. (Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images)

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami has roused the ire of a French aristocrat. Murakami, currently exhibiting at the Palace of Versailles till December 12, has riled the passions of one of Louis XIV's descendents, who has decried the latest exhibition at the iconic palace. Prince Sixte-Henri de Bourbon-Parmet has protested the installation of Murakami's colorful, large-scale sculptures in the Sun King's lavish residence because "...it does French culture no good." Incidentally, the prince's nephew also led a similar protest when American artist Jeff Koons exhibited at the site in 2008. 

Murakami, whose pop sensibility straddles "high" and "low" art in ways typical of the genre, makes frequent references to manga and anime in his artwork. His work is highly stylized and colorful, ranging from painting to sculpture and even handbags on which he collaborated with French fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton. Referencing artists such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, Murakami's work has similarly defied labeling as intrinsically critical of mass consumer culture or reveling in it.

According to Murkami's statement on the palace's website, the artist acknowledges a distinction between his vision of the site as a foreigner and that of the French, saying that "the Versailles of my imagination corresponds to an exaggeration and a transformation in my mind"—a disjuncture that is precisely what he hopes to explore through his exhibition.

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