Sous le titre « Ainsi Jeff Koons est il assez « grand » pour les salles sacrées de Versailles ? » , le journal de référence de la City et de la finance fait pour la première fois état de la vague de réprobation demandant l’interdiction de l’exposition. Sur Timesonline, à l’adresse :
So, is Jeff Koons grand enough for the hallowed halls of Versailles?
The heritage and identity of the French nation will be sullied if the American pop artist Jeff Koons is allowed to go ahead with an exhibition in the hallowed halls of Versailles, according to traditionalists.
They have started a campaign to bar the King of Kitsch from the 17th-century château outside Paris that was home to the French monarchy until the Revolution.
Jean-Jacques Aillagon, chairman of the body that runs Versailles, says however that Koons’s eccentricity is well suited to an edifice shaped by Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, who ruled France from 1643 to 1715.
The exhibition, which is due to open next month, would bring together a baroque artist from our time with the baroque of the 1600s, said Mr Aillagon.
He has asked the 53-year-old Postmodern artist to place 15 works in the Grand Appartment and Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, among the most striking symbols of French power and culture in the ancien régime.
These will include inflatable oeuvres such as Balloon Dog and Lobster as well as Hanging Heart, a 9ft stainless-steel monument that fetched a record price for contemporary art when it was sold last year for $23.6 million (£12 million).
A porcelain representation of Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles will be placed among the arcaded mirrors, the marble pilasters, the busts of Roman emperors and the works of Charles Le Brun, the 17th-century French painter and art theorist.
Split-Rocker, an 11-tonne stainless steel sculpture covered in 90,000 live marigolds, impatiens, petunias, geraniums and begonias, is destined for the palace gardens.
Critics are livid at the invitation to an artist who immortalised his one-year marriage to Ilona Staller, the former Italian porn star known as La Cicciolina, in a series of works depicting their love-making.
“Organising such an exhibition in the château is an outrage to the work of Louis XIV,” said Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky, chairman of the right-wing National Writers’ Union, which is leading the campaign to keep Koons out of Versailles.
“This project is felt by many French people to be a veritable sullying of the most sacred aspects of our heritage and identity.”
Edouard de Royère, chairman of the Heritage Foundation, said: “I am not against contemporary art but I am shocked by its intrusion into a magic place such as Versailles.”
Laurent Dandrieu, culture editor of the weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles, said visitors would be disappointed to discover inflatable animals “in a place where they imagined they would find intact the image of former royal splendour”. Detractors say that Koons accepted the invitation only to enhance his notoriety – and the value of his work.
The artist said that the exhibition would shed light on the philosophy of his work. “I don’t intend to invade historic rooms, fill them with Jeff Koons and denature them,” he told Le Figaro. “I want to capture the harmony of the place.”
A Versailles spokesman said the exhibition would offer new insights into a site “everyone thinks they know”.
Adam Sage in Paris