Versailles gets American pop art, French grieve
American determination to make the French pay for not supporting the war in Iraq took a devious turn this week: An exhibit of works by kitsch-artist extraordinaire Jeff Koons is now on display in the hallowed halls of French royal excess, Versailles. Until Dec. 14, the royal apartments and the garden at the Sun King's favorite residence will be home to 17 of Koons' most noted works, including "Rabbit" and "Split Rocker." According to the museum, the pieces were chosen to harmonize with specific spaces, decorative detail and the furnishings around them. That explains why the polychromatic aluminum "Lobster," based on an inflatable pool toy, hangs in the Salon de Mars.
Needless to say, the guardians of Gallic cultural purity are hyperventilating. According to the New York Times, the National Union of Writers of France is aghast at the desecration. Chairman of the group, Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky, called it a blow to the "heart of a civilization" and an "outrage to Marie Antoinette." OK. I get the civilization part, but didn't the French hate the Austrian queen?
And I can't lie; I think Koons' cream and gold statue of a lounging Michael Jackson cuddling his monkey, Bubbles, is brilliant. It couldn't have a better home than Versailles.
Photos by (top to bottom) AP Photo/Thibault Camus, EPA/MAXPPP/Guy Gios, and AP Photo/Thibault Camus